When that famous phrase "The Eagle has landed" was first uttered by Neil Armstrong in 1969, it signalled a glorious achievement in man's determination to beat the odds and achieve a hitherto impossible dream. Nearly 20 years it would be applied to a UK sportsman whose determination to succeed against all the odds in an unfamiliar environment was yet another "one small step for a man", in this case a man from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire - Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards!
While Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon, Eddie was the first British competitor to set foot on a ski slope during the Olympic Games! He was ranked 55th in the world, which qualified him, as the sole British applicant, for participation in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games held in Calgary. Unfortunately, this Eagle finished last in both the 70 m and 90 m events at the Calgary games, but none-the-less he became something of an international phenomenon.
With his ginger hair, trademark moustache and milk-bottle specs - which steamed up on the ski-jump – Eddie soon gained the name "Mr Magoo of the Slopes" back home, but he also captured the imagination of a British public who had hardly expected that one of their countrymen would make an impression on the ski slopes, even less at the Olympics!
The press lampooned Eddie as an embarrassment, but at the closing ceremony, the President of the Games singled Eddie out for his contribution. It was the first time in the history of the Olympic Games that an individual athlete had been mentioned in the closing speech, even if it was because of his distinct lack of success!
Affection for this geeky oddball incensed those in the skiing community who felt he was making a mockery of their sport, especially after taking part in stunts such as being persuaded to dress up as an eagle for an opening ceremony, only to find out that the costume outfit was in fact a chicken! He even received hate mail from rivals, upset he had stolen their limelight. While he sharply divided opinion, Eddie went on to have a No 2 hit in Finland with a song he didn't even understand: 'I told you I’d have a go at anything', he is reported as saying!
Eddie is perhaps the best example of a heroic failure, whose perseverance and achievement was – it should be stated - gained without any funding. For that, and for many other reasons, Eddie is more hero than failure, and his story continues to win over audiences. So to learn how this particular Eagle landed on his feet in the end, even if it wasn't in quite the same style as his sporting rivals, why not book him for your event. You'll certainly cheer him all the way. Contact us on 020 7251 8222 for further information, or book Eddie via our online booking form.
The event was a huge success! Eddie was amazing and we couldn’t have asked for a better VIP guest.
PHS Data Solutions
Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Eddie! What an absolutely lovely guy. He was brilliant with everyone and really made the day very special. I hope he enjoyed it as much as everyone else did here. We would love to have him back as all the kids, parents and organisers want to run the event next year and of course bigger !!
Sandown Ski Centre
Eddie was fantastic, from the moment you suggested him to the end of conference yesterday it has been nothing but plain
sailing, we particularly appreciate his willingness to give up his time and participate in pre event media. His story is wonderful and was perfect for this event. I have been shouting from the rooftops about this one Sally and I only hope there is some more work in Ireland for him. 10/10 on this one.
- Former presenter of Masterchef with his own range of sauces and soups.
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- Two Olympic Gold Medals and six World Championship titles to his name, James is one of the most successful British athletes of the new millennium. Inspiring sportsman, athlete and adventurer.
James Cracknell MBE