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Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards wins over fans at 1988 Winter Olympics

The Story

He hardly soars like an eagle. For Britain's first and only ski jumper, Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards, just landing safely is victory enough. With his Coke-bottle glasses and doughy physique, the former plasterer dubbed "Mr. Magoo" has become a media sensation. Despite finishing dead last, Edwards has received more requests for interviews than any other athlete at the Games, reports CBC Television. Fans of Edwards says he embodies the true Olympic spirit while his critics accuse him of mocking the Games with his clownish performance. In this interview Edwards defends himself, saying he is a serious competitor and a dedicated athlete.

Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: Feb. 24, 1988
Guest(s): Eddie Edwards
Host: Valerie Pringle
Duration: 3:40

Did You know?

• Eddie "the Eagle" was a sarcastic reference to his jumping style. Edwards was a downhill skier who decided he wanted to try ski jump. He taught himself to ski jump with borrowed skis. Edwards had no sponsors and trained by jumping over double-decker buses. He had never ski jumped on snow before his arrival in Calgary.
•  The accident-prone Edwards finished last in both events. He placed 58th in the 70-metre jump and 55th in the 90-metre jump.

• Following the 1988 Winter Games, the IOC instituted what is known as the "Eddie the Eagle Rule." It requires Olympic hopefuls to finish in the top half of an international competition, effectively eliminating Edwards from future Olympic Games.
• The one-time Olympian fared well at least away from the ski jumps. He appeared on The Tonight Show, had a huge "nonvictory" parade in his hometown of Cheltenham, England, and nabbed sponsorship deals with Disney and Eagle Airlines. Edwards even had a hit pop single in Finland.

• Finland's Matti Nykanen won three gold medals (70-metre, 90-metre and team jumping), making him the first ski jumper to capture three gold medals.
• The media attention heaped on Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards was eclipsed only by Jamaica's first bobsled team. Despite their lack of experience and the fact they'd never seen snow before, the Jamaican bobsled team's determination against impossible odds won the affection of millions.
• Their story was made into a film called Cool Runnings (1993).
• Jamaica's first bobsled team crashed and finished last at the 1988 Calgary Games. But at the Lillehammer Games in 1994, Jamaica's four-man sled stunned the world when they finished 14th, ahead of the Americans, the Russians and the French.


The Calgary Olympics: The Winter of '88 more