Thursday, February 25, 2016


in 1988....
  It had been 28 years since Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards and I last saw each other so when we got together in New York the other day we had a lot of reminiscing to do. 
  We both agreed we looked slightly different nowadays but Eddie was the same upbeat, optimistic and energetic guy who was working as a plasterer when he qualified, entirely self-funded, for the 1988 Winter Olympics ski-jumping competition.
.......and now!
  Despite finishing last in both the 70 and 90 metre events and embarrassing snooty British Olympic officials in the process, Eddie became a household name and endeared himself to people around the globe because of his guts, fortitude and refusal to give up. .
 When the Olympics finished he flew to Los Angeles where I picked him up in a limo at the airport and took him to NBC studios in Burbank where he was due to appear on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.  While I waited backstage sampling the free beers in the hospitality room Eddie turned on the charm for Carson and presented him with an Olympic pin.
  Afterwards we did the rounds of pubs and clubs--starting at the King's Head in Santa Monica where he wanted fish and chips and then to downtown Los Angeles where we hit several clubs including the now-defunct Stock Exchange where a group of girl clubbers recognised him and sent him notes across the bar, much to his delight.
  "I fell in lust about three times that night," he laughingly told me in New York.
  He was in New York to help promote Eddie the Eagle, the 20th Century Fox film about his Olympic adventures which stars the Welsh actor Taron Egerton as Eddie and features Hugh Jackman as his alcoholic trainer---a character who didn't exist, says Eddie.
  "He's a composite of all the many trainers I had from so many different countries," he says. "But basically the movie is true to most of the facts."
  After Eddie's spectacular but brave failures, the British Olympic Committee, who felt he was making a mockery of the sport, instituted what became known as the Eddie the Eagle Rule which made it much tougher for hopefuls to qualify for the Olympics.
 Consequently Eddie failed to qualify for the 1992 Winter Olympics in, France, the 1994 Games in Norway and the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan.
  Undeterred and now aged 52, he still skis whenever he can, earned a law degree, still works occasionally as a plasterer and gives motivational talks, makes personal appearances and has appeared in advertisements.
  "It feels very surreal having a movie made about me, he says. "Getting to the Olympics 28 years ago was fantastic---it was a dream and the realisation of my ambition to represent my country.

 "It was a huge bonus to be christened Eddie The Eagle and I loved it and it was great fun.but I never thought in a million years that 28 years later a movie would be made about my life. It's just incredible."

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