Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards
|Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards|
|Full name||Michael Edwards|
5 December 1963 |
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Personal best||115 m (377 ft)
Lake Placid, 1997
|World Cup career|
|Updated on 30 March 2015.|
Michael "Eddie" Edwards (born 5 December 1963), nicknamed "Eddie the Eagle" by the media, is a British ski jumper and skier who in 1988 became the first competitor since 1929 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping. At the time,[not in citation given] he was the British ski jumping record holder, the world number nine in amateur speed skiing, (106.8 mph (171.9 km/h)) and held a stunt jumping world record of 6 buses or ten cars.[better source needed] Finishing last in the 70m and 90m events, he became famous as an example of an underdog or "heroic failure", and of perseverance and achievement without funding. In 2016, he was portrayed by Taron Egerton in the biographical film Eddie the Eagle, co-starring Hugh Jackman as fictional coach Bronson Peary.
Edwards was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. His family call him by his given name, "Michael", or "Mike"; "Eddie" is a nickname derived by schoolfriends from his surname. A good downhill skier, he narrowly missed the Great Britain team for that event for the 1984 Games. To improve his chances to qualify for Calgary in 1988, he moved to Lake Placid, New York in the U.S. to train and enter races of a higher standard, but he quickly found himself short on funds. To realise his Olympic dream, he decided to switch to ski jumping for reasons of cost and easier qualification as there were no other British ski jumpers with whom to compete for a place.
Edwards began jumping under the eye of John Viscome and Chuck Berghorn in Lake Placid, using Berghorn's equipment, although he had to wear six pairs of socks to make the boots fit. He was disadvantaged by his weight—at about 82 kg (181 lb), more than 9 kg (20 lb) heavier than the next heaviest competitor—and by his lack of financial support for training—he was totally self-funded. Another problem was that he was very nearsighted wearing thick glasses under his goggles, which would mist up at altitude.
Edwards was informed of his qualification for the Games while working as a plasterer and residing temporarily in a Finnish mental hospital due to lack of funds for alternative accommodation (rather than as a patient). He first represented Great Britain at the 1987 World Championships and was ranked 55th in the world. This performance qualified him, as the sole British applicant, for the 1988 Winter Olympics ski jumping competition.
Edwards was the best ski jumper in the United Kingdom, holding the British record of 73.5 m in one of his Calgary jumps in 1988.
1988 Winter Olympics
During the 1988 Winter Olympics, Edwards competed in, and finished last in, both the 70 m and 90 m events. In the 70 m, he scored 69.2 points from two jumps of 55m; second-last Bernat Sola Pujol of Spain scored 140.4 points from 71 m and 68.5 m jumps; winner Matti Nykänen of Finland had 229.1 points from 89.5m jumps. In the 90 m, Edwards scored 57.5 points from 71 m and 67 m jumps; second-last Todd Gilman of Canada had 110.8 points from 96 m and 86.5 m; Nykänen won again, with 224 points from 118.5 m and 107 m.
From the beginning, the press version of his story was "embroidered with falsehoods". "They said I was afraid of heights. But I was doing sixty jumps a day then, which is hardly something someone who was afraid of heights would do."
His lack of success endeared him to people around the globe. He subsequently became a media celebrity and appeared on talk shows around the world, appearing on The Tonight Show during the Games. The press nicknamed him "Mr. Magoo", and one Italian journalist called him a "ski dropper". However, admirers praised him as representing the true Olympic spirit as an amateur athlete who wanted to compete at the best of his ability for its own sake, regardless of his chances of winning.
The widespread attention that Edwards received in Calgary was embarrassing to some in the ski jumping establishment. Shortly after the Olympics finished, the entry requirements were strengthened in order to make it nearly impossible for anyone to follow his example.
At the closing ceremony, the president of the Organizing Committee, Frank King, singled out Edwards for his contribution. King said looking at the competitors: "You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. Some of you have even soared like an eagle."
The Eddie "The Eagle" Rule
In response to the Edwards phenomenon, in 1990, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) instituted what became known as the Eddie the Eagle Rule, which requires Olympic hopefuls to compete in international events and be placed in the top 30 percent or the top 50 competitors, whichever is fewer.
Edwards failed to qualify for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway. He got a five-year sponsorship from Eagle Airlines, a small British charter company, to his attempt to reach the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan but failed to qualify for those as well.
Return to Calgary
On 13 February 2008, Edwards made a return visit to Calgary to take part in festivities marking the twentieth anniversary of the Games. During his visit, he rode the zip-line at Canada Olympic Park with a member of the Jamaican bobsled team (the ride simulates the speed of a ski-jumper) and led a procession of skiers down the slopes of the park while carrying an Olympic torch.
Edwards released a book (and a video) called On the Piste. He recorded a song in Finnish entitled "Mun nimeni on Eetu" ("My name is Eetu"), though he does not speak Finnish. Later, he recorded another Finnish language song: "Eddien Siivellä" ("On Eddie's Wing"). Both of these songs were composed and written by popular Finnish artist Irwin Goodman.
Edwards appeared in a number of advertising campaigns, e.g. on television, promoting cars, and commanded fees of £10,000 an hour. Nevertheless, he declared bankruptcy in 1992, claiming that a trust fund for his earnings was not set up properly. In 2003 he graduated from De Montfort University in Leicester with a degree in law. "I've been interested in law since taking out a civil action against my trustees 10 years ago," he said in a 2001 interview.
In 2011, he returned to Planica in Slovenia and visited one of the biggest ski jumps in the world. For the first time, he brought his family with him under the ski slopes and made a promotion video, "Eddie 'the Eagle' Lands in Slovenia", while visiting places such as Kranjska Gora, Lake Bled, Ljubljana, Postojna Caves, Lipica, Portorož and Piran. The video was later posted on YouTube and many UK websites. Edwards described the visit to Slovenia as one of the family's nicest trips so far.
On 25 February 2012, he appeared as a competitor on episode 2 of BBC1's Let's Dance for Sport Relief, 2012 and got through to the final on most public votes. His performances were accompanied by the Royal British Legion Band & Corps Of Drums Romford.
On 24 March 2012, he appeared as a competitor on the first Winter Wipeout (Total Wipeout) celebrity special. He came first in each round and won the final, beating Tony Mortimer (formerly of pop group East 17) and Steven Arnold (Ashley Peacock of the UK soap Coronation Street).
In January 2013, Edwards competed in the ITV celebrity diving programme Splash!.Previously involved in gymnastics, he was determined to master some difficult dives. He did an inward 1.5 somersault pike from 10 m in the semi-final. In the final, he did a synchro dive with Tom Daley. He later became the winner, beating competitors Jake Canuso and Linda Barker by public vote.
In January 2014, he commentated on the Channel 4 TV programme The Jump, where 12 famous people took part in winter sports. As part of each episode, Edwards jumped off the largest of three ski jumps which gives the series its name. In the same year he appeared as a guest on the ITV2 comedy show Fake Reaction.
A film chronicling the life story of Edwards had been planned by Irish director Declan Lowney since 2007. Comedian Steve Coogan was originally chosen for the title role. Edwards was said to be pleased with the choice but also joked that Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise would be better suited for the role. In 2009, Lowney announced that Rupert Grint would instead play the part. The film was scheduled to begin production once Grint completed work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, but it did not go ahead.
On 23 December 2014, it was reported that Gary Barlow was in talks to write the entire soundtrack for the film. On 23 January 2015, it was reported that Edwards may perform the stunts in the movie about his life.
Ultimately, Matthew Vaughn produced and Dexter Fletcher directed the biopic, starring Taron Egerton as Edwards, and Hugh Jackman as his trainer. The film, Eddie the Eagle, was released in early 2016.
- Eric Moussambani: Eric "the Eel", another famously unsuccessful Olympian
- Philip Boit
- Trevor Misipeka
- Vinko Bogataj
- Edwards, Eddie (2016-02-28). Eddie the Eagle: My Story. Graymalkin Media. ISBN 9781631680649. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
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- Edwards 2016, Chapter 2.
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- Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards - Olympic legend YouTube
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- Pye, Steven (4 February 2014). "Reappraising Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
- Litke, James (29 February 1988). "Golden light extinguished, but memories will live on". Rome News-Tribune (N.Y.). AP.
- McIntyre, Doug (14 February 2008). "Golden Memories Fired Up!". Calgary Sun. Archived from the original on 17 February 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
- Zip-line ride: Global News Calgary (television broadcast), 13 February 2008
- James Keller (1 November 2009). "Calgary '88's Eddie the Eagle returns to carry torch". CTV. The Canadian Press he is also said to crry the torch for the 2018 games. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
- Crowe, Dave; Edward, Eddie (1999). On the Piste. London: Chameleon. ISBN 0-233-99497-1.
- "Eddie the Eagle: 'I went from £6,000 a year to £10,000 an hour'". The Telegraph. 19 February 2012.
- "Eddie aims to be legal eagle". BBC News. 17 July 2003.
- "Take a look at me now". BBC Sport. 1 March 2001. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- on YouTube
- "Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford Achievements". Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford.
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- "Coogan to play Eddie 'The Eagle'". BBC News. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007.
- Sweeney, Ken (22 November 2009). "The Diary: Irish director makes leap of faith in casting for 'Eagle' biopic". Sunday Tribune (Dublin, Ireland). Archived from the original on 17 February 2010.
- "Barlow 'for Eddie The Eagle music'". Belfast Telegraph. 23 December 2014.
- "Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards offers to ski jump for biopic". BBC News. 23 January 2015.
- "The Eddie the Eagle Movie Will Be 'Breaking Away Meets Slap Shot'". Empire.