Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards
Despite little skill for his sport, Olympic skier Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards won the hearts and minds of the public with his heroic failures, and is still one of the best-loved athletes today; in fact, his life has been depicted in the biographical film Eddie the Eagle (2016), and he has appeared on likes Channel 4 programme 'The Jump'.
Michael Edwards, better known as Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards, was the first competitor to represent the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team in Olympic Ski jumping.
Despite little skill for his sport, Eddie's heroic failures won the hearts and minds of the public: in 2016, he was portrayed by Taron Egerton in the biographical film Eddie the Eagle, and he remains one of the best loved athletes today.
Born in Cheltenham, England, Eddie was working as a plasterer when he qualified as the sole British applicant for the 1988 Winter Olympics ski-jumping competition. He had previously represented Great Britain at the 1987 World Championships, and was ranked 55th in the world.
The odds were stacked against him: he weighed 9kg more than the next heaviest competitor; he lacked financial support for training and was totally self-funded; he was scared of heights; and he needed to wear his glasses at all times, which fogged up to such an extent while skiiing that he could not see.
Eddie eventually finished last in both the 70m and 90m events - and his lack of success endeared him to people all across the globe.
In fact, the worse he did, the more popular he became, to the point where he became a media celebrity and appeared on talk-shows around the world. The press nicknamed him "Mr. Magoo", and one Italian journalist called him a "ski dropper".
The widespread attention that Eddie received in Calgary turned into a large embarrassment for the ski jumping establishment. Many athletes and officials felt that he was 'making a mockery' of the sport. Shortly after the Olympics finished, the entry requirements were greatly toughened, making it next to impossible for anyone to follow his example.
Despite not being the best in the world, at the time of his Olympic entry, Eddie was the best ski jumper in Great Britain.
He subsequently released a book called 'On the piste' and much later a song called "Fly Eddie Fly" that reached the Top 50 in the UK. He also recorded a song in Finnish, titled "Mun nimeni on Eetu" ("Eagle's my name"), though he does not speak Finnish. Eddie's less-than-perfect pronunciation added to its appeal. Later, he recorded another Finnish-language song: "Eddien Siivellä" ("On Eddie's Wing").
Eddie has appeared in the ITV celebrity diving programme 'Splash', where he did a synchro dive with Tom Daley to beat Linda Barker and Jake Canuso in the final public vote.
Due to his experience on the slopes, he has also appeared on the Channel 4 show 'The Jump', the show focuses on 12 celebrities taking on challenging and dangerous winter sports; he uses his experience to coach the celebrities on their ski jumps and commentates on their performances.
In 2016 the hit film Eddie the Eagle was released, charting Eddie's journey to Calgary. It starred Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman and was a box office success.
Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards is a wonderful and charming motivational speaker, after dinner speaker and awards host who is incredibly popular on the corporate circuit.
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