Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards

EDDIE ‘THE EAGLE’ EDWARDS

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 later 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.

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. In fact, his is such a story that Hollywood turned it into a film which hit the cinemas in early 2016.

Eddie will be on hand at the Energize Awards to share his story and present our local heroes with their awards on the night. Energize would like to thank Telford Snowboard and Ski Centre for supporting the Awards by sponsoring Eddie’s appearance.

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