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Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards soars into Spalding




Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards had the world on the edge of its seat in 1988 as the sole British Olympic ski jumper in Calgary.

It was no surprise to onlookers that he would come last in the 70m and 90m jumps.

But we had all taken him to our hearts and the big question back then was: “Would he make it at all?”

Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards with Holbeach WI members: president Carol Wilson, treasurer Lynda Padoan and secretary Jackie Maton. (120319-6)
Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards with Holbeach WI members: president Carol Wilson, treasurer Lynda Padoan and secretary Jackie Maton. (120319-6)

Eddie - real name Michael Edwards - soared into Spalding on Tuesday to talk about his sporting life at the annual meeting of the Lincolnshire South Federation of Women’s Institutes.

In the 80s, Eddie made an 11th hour switch from skiing to ski jumping, a sport that could have cost him his life, because he was so determined to be an Olympian.

“It’s very, very dangerous,” said Eddie. “You can hurt yourself and you can kill yourself.”

Those fear-filled moments standing at the top of a 90m jump - or a 70m one - take more guts than most of us could muster.

Eddie said: “It’s very frightening, that’s part and parcel of the sport and that’s why I love it.

“It’s 95 per cent psychology and five per cent physical effort.”

The thrill of ski jumping has never left Eddie (55) and his last descent from 90m came only three years ago.

He said: “I jumped two weeks ago, only a very small jump of 25m.”

Eddie learned to ski as a schoolboy.

He became an accomplished downhill skier but missed out on selection for Great Britain’s team at the 1984 Olympics.

Olympic qualification was easier in one major respect for ski jumping because there were no other British athletes competing for a place.

Eddie’s first outing for Great Britain came in the 1987 World Championships, when he was ranked 55th in the world.

And it was that performance that qualified him for the Olympics the following year.

Eddie self-funded his Olympic dream, working as a plasterer.

After Calgary, he made big advances in his performance but was never again selected to represent Great Britain in a Winter Olympics.

Entry requirements were toughened following Eddie’s participation in Calgary.

The tougher regulation was dubbed the “Eddie the Eagle Rule”, and it meant Olympic hopefuls had to finish in either the top 30 per cent or the top 50 competitors, whichever one was fewer.

Sporting successes have followed, including becoming the world number nine in amateur speed skiing, and Eddie has made a name for himself in TV and radio.

A film about Eddie’s life as ski jumper was released in 2016 with Taron Egerton starring as Eddie and Hugh Jackman as his trainer.

The behind the scenes story reveals a very ordinary, down to earth man but with absolutely extraordinary levels of courage and determination.

Debbie Venn, who chairs the Lincolnshire South Federation of WI’s, describes Eddie as an inspiration.

Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards with Lincolnshire South Federation WI chairman Debbie Venn. (120319-4)
Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards with Lincolnshire South Federation WI chairman Debbie Venn. (120319-4)

She said: “Eddie is an inspiration to a lot of people and that is what the WI is about, inspirational people.

“I think what he achieved was wonderful really.

“I have always said that the only person you really remember from the Calgary Olympics is Eddie out of all of the famous stars who were there.”

The man remembered for bravely standing at the top of ski jumps, and preparing for a life or death launch, says he’s been to this part of Lincolnshire several times in his role as a public speaker.

Eddie says: “I love the flatness when I am riding my bike.”

Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards with Holbeach WI members: president Carol Wilson, treasurer Lynda Padoan and secretary Jackie Maton. (120319-6)
Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards with Holbeach WI members: president Carol Wilson, treasurer Lynda Padoan and secretary Jackie Maton. (120319-6)


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