Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Eagle

The goofy looking fellow above is our 106th hero of the day one Michael Edwards, better known as Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards, born this day 1963 Cheltenham, England. At the time of his rise to both fame and hero status Eddie was working as a plasterer. He was plastering away when he qualified as the only British applicant in the ski jumping contest for the 1988 Calgary Olympics. He had previously represented Britain at the 1987 World Championship, and was ranked 55th in the world. You would think that the 55th ranked anything in the world would not be a chubby, near sighted plasterer from England, but I guess ski jumping is a niche sport. He did weight about 20 pounds more than his next heaviest competitor, and in a sport like ski jumping that is not a good thing. He was so short-sighted that he had to keep his glasses on under his ski goggles, and they would fog up when he was competing. So a fat, blind tub of lard hurdling through the air on a pair of skis was England's great hope in the ski jumping competition. He was entirely self-funded, and as a result (and a lack of any talent) caused him to finish last in both the 70 metre and 90 metre events at the Olympics. His lack of success in the sport did not stop him from being a celebrity. He was referred to as Mr. Magoo, and one fellow even branded him a ski dropper. Lovely stuff, but Eddie would not be denied his moment of fame. He was a great embarrassment to the ski jumping powers that be, and after him the rules for being able to qualify for the Olympics were made much tougher. However those bastards could not take away Eddie's moment, at the closing ceremony of the games the president of the games proclaimed "At this Games some competitors have won gold, some have broken records and one has even flown like an eagle." The crowd went crazy and began chanting "Eddie" "Eddie" thus making Eddie the only athlete in the long and storied history of the Olympic Games to have been mentioned in a closing speech. Not bad for a short-sighted, chubby, flies like a stone, plasterer. So, for showing us that you do not have to be good in order to compete, and that nice can finish last, and still be a hero, and for giving it the old college try, Michael Edwards, a.k.a Eddie the Eagle (December 5th 1963-present), you are my hero of the day.

1 comment:

tideliar said...

I think that was part of his universal appeal, and a turning point in the Olympics when the ideal of being an "amateur" athlete was lost.

He was the 'everyman' who had a dream and followed that dream. And when they changed the entry criteria to prevent something like this from happening again, they removed the chance of anyone with a dream from seriously trying to compete against the best amateur athletes in the world.

I haven't watched the Olympics since then, because now it is nothing more than another money-grubbing contest between professionals (pun intended), and I see that all year round.