Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards became an iconic English ski-jumper in the 1980s and his legacy lives on at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
In 1988, Edwards became the first competitor since 1928 to represent his country in the Olympics and held the British ski jumping record from 1988 to 2001.
While he finished last in both the 70m and 80m events at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, his remarkable background and commitment to the game has garnered worldwide attention.
Edwards’ phenomenal story and trademarked thick glasses earned him fame, the birth of the ‘Eddie the Eagle Rule’ and a movie titled “Eddie the Eagle” based on his life.
Who is Eddie the Eagle?
Michael Edwards, known as “Eddie the Eagle”, was a British ski-jumper who rose to fame at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Edwards was first introduced to the slopes at age 13 and quickly took to downhill skiing.
After struggling to make a breakthrough in downhill skiing and facing mounting financial pressures, Edwards switched to ski jumping, an event with considerably less competition and expenses.
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In 1986, Edwards relocated to Lake Placid, N.Y. -- host of the 1980 Winter Olympics -- to train under American coaches Chuck Berghorn and John Viscome. Edwards faced a trifecta of obstacles -- lack of funding, his weight that put him nine pounds heavier than the next closest competitor, and nearsightedness that forced him to wear glasses, frequently fogging up and impairing his vision.
He represented Great Britain at the 1987 World Championships in West Germany, finishing ranked 55th and earning a ticket to Calgary. True to his underdog reputation, Edwards learned of his qualification while residing at a Finish mental hospital, not as a patient but out of financial necessity.
At the Olympics, Edwards finished last in both the 70m and 90m events, scoring over 50 points less than the next closest competitor. His 71m jump in the latter event set a British record at the time and still sits in sixth place on the all-time list of British ski jumps.
While Edwards didn’t win any medals, he won the hearts of many Olympic fans.
To this day, Great Britain has still never won a medal in ski jumping.
If you’re thinking the story of “Eddie the Eagle” belongs in Hollywood, you’d be correct. Edwards’ story was adapted in 2016 in a movie appropriately titled “Eddie the Eagle,” starring Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken and Taron Egerton as Edwards.
Edwards earned 180,000 pounds when the movie came out but reportedly lost most of it when he divorced his wife, Samantha Morton in 2016. Edwards had to give up “85% of his net worth” to his ex-wife as part of a divorce settlement. The two had been together for 13 years.
What is the Eddie the Eagle Rule?
The rule, colloquially known as the "Eddie the Eagle" rule, requires aspiring Olympians to place in the top-30 percent or top-50 competitors overall of an international event, whichever is fewer.
When was the Eddie the Eagle rule implemented?
The rule was implemented in 1990, between the Calgary and Albertville Games. It effectively ended Edwards’ Olympic career as he unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for the next three Olympics.
Edwards did, however, earn a five-year sponsorship from Eagle Airlines in support of his attempt to qualify for the 1998 Olympics in Nagano.
Where is Eddie the Eagle today?
Michael Edwards is now 58 years old and has been keeping busy off the slopes, especially on television. He currently resides in Gloucestershire.
In 2003, Edwards graduated from De Montfort University with a degree in law. He has also appeared in many advertising campaigns, promoting cars on television.
In 2012, he was a competitor on the show “Let’s Dance for Sport Relief” and made it to the final based on public votes. In 2013, he was on a British celebrity diving program called “Splash!” and won.
In 2014, he was a commentator on the show “The Jump!” and jumped off the largest of three ski jumps in each episode. That same year he was a guest on the comedy show “Fake Reaction.”
In 2021, he was highlighted on the UK version of “The Masked Singer” as a Rubber Chicken.