Ski Jumping - The Eagle has landed!
It wasn't just the Jamaican bobsleigh team that highlighted the determination to compete against the odds in Calgary. At the top of the ski jump, a nervous looking British competitor stood and waved his arms at the watching crowd. As he launched himself onto the ramp the world held its breath. These were the Games that made Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards a star.
Great Britain had absolutely no pedigree in Olympic ski jumping, having never before entered anyone into the competition. Edwards was his country’s best competitor… and its only one. He had only taken up the sport a couple of years earlier, having missed out on selection for the British downhill team. He had come to the decision that he stood a much better chance of reaching the Winter Games as ski jumper than as an Alpine skier, and set about his goal with dogged determination.
Edwards found all the money needed to get to Calgary himself, and borrowed equipment from Chuck Bergorn, the American coach who taught him how to jump. He weighed more than any other ski-jumper and wore thick glasses due to a sight problem that meant he often couldn't see properly while in the air.
None of these impediments deterred Edwards from his mission. He qualified after taking part in the 1987 World Championships, which earned a world ranking. He may only have been ranked 55th in the world, but it was enough to secure his place in Calgary.
He entered both the normal and large hill events, finishing last in both. His jump on the large hill fell some 40m short of the mark set by the winner, Matti Nykänen of Finland, yet Edwards still received a huge ovation. The very fact that he had managed to land all four of his jumps over the two events was widely regarded as a huge triumph over adversity.
His exploits in Calgary catapulted him to global fame, as he was heralded as the ultimate underdog. Despite his best efforts Edwards never managed to qualify for another edition of the Games.