Eddie the Eagle, the semi-biographical film released earlier this year, is based on Michael “Eddie” Edwards, who was famous for being Britain’s first Olympic Ski jumper who competed in the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. Finishing last in the 70m and 90m events, Eddie the Eagle became famous as an example of an underdog full of determination and the desire to achieve.
In the movie, the British ski jumper is portrayed by Taron Egerton, and according to the Guardian, Eddie tried his hardest at the Games despite the lack of funds to support him.
Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards with Michael 'Eddie' Edwards himself ⛷ pic.twitter.com/hhftm9LuGK
— Taron Updates (@EgertonUpdates) May 1, 2016
In fact, the underdog ski jumper, who came from a working-class background, was using borrowed skis and hand-me-down boots that were too big for him. He was eccentric and utterly authentic, yet admirers appreciated him as a sportsperson who represented the true Olympic spirit as an amateur athlete and who was more focused on giving his best than beating his competitors.
Eddie the Eagle also features Hugh Jackman in the role of Bronson Peary, the fictional coach who guides Eddie. However, in real life, Eddie’s popularity was attributed to the efforts of his agent and manager, Simon Platz, who offered to help him manage his publicity and public relations. Simon Platz was empathetic about Eddie, who he perceived to be struggling while also performing badly. His lack of success made him a popular underdog amongst people around the globe, with the worse he performed, the more popular he became.
At that point of time, Eddie felt the need to manage all the attention he was getting, so he teamed with Platz, who started handling all the requests for interviews, appearances, and promotions. Eddie the Eagle eventually became a celebrity and appeared on several talk shows around the world. In fact, Eddie the Eagle was even flown to Los Angeles to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, with plenty of other interviews and TV appearances lined up even before the Games were over.
— Guardian Weekend (@guardianweekend) April 8, 2016
Simon Platz helped Eddie appear on the British talk show Wogan, and it was through Simon’s connections in the music industry that Eddie the Eagle was able to release a single “Fly Eddie Fly,” which went on to become number one in Finland. Eddie the Eagle opened a ride at Blackpool and was given an Alfa Romeo, however, the somewhat successful Olympic ski jumper had no illusions of grandeur and later wrote a book titled Eddie the Eagle: My Story, on which the movie is partly based.
Eddie the Eagle always seemed to find himself low on funds for training and to allow himself to pursue a career as an Olympic ski jumper, however, the lack of funds did not deter him and he managed to find a way to fund his travel to various skiing facilities across Europe to perfect his skills.
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) March 16, 2016
According to the Belfast Telegraph, Eddie The Eagle appeared on a panel on Sam Delaney’s News Thing and credited his success to the skiing experiences he had in Europe.
More than the Calgary Winter Olympics, it was the hardships he faced during his training in Europe that carved the resilient sportsperson in him. And the Sydney Morning Herald reports that while the Europeans all had sponsorship and government money behind them, Eddie the Eagle had had no financial support from anyone and was living in a Finnish mental hospital and working as a plasterer to save money while training at the time that he was informed that he had actually qualified for the Games.
For many people, Eddie the Eagle epitomized the Olympic ethos of amateur effort. When Eddie came to Australia a few months after the Calgary Winter Olympics, he attributed his popularity to the fact that he just enjoyed the professional sport by having fun and bringing his personality to it. He changed many people’s perspectives toward the sport, which was previously perceived as fiercely competitive. And apart from Eddie’s courage and personal back-story, it is for this reason that people love the movie adaptation of Eddie the Eagle’s story, because Eddie’s story reminds viewers that sports should be about more than just glory, success, and the quest for gold.
[Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images]