We recently welcomed Olympic ski-jumper, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards into the office for a CEL Talk on his remarkable journey, resilience, and why we should never give up on our passions.
Growing up in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Eddie assumed that he would carry on his family business and become a plasterer. However, after attending a school skiing trip as a teenager, this all changed. As soon as Eddie was old enough, he travelled to Europe to teach skiing in winter resorts. He also competed internationally in Alpine Skiing before switching to ski jumping, where there were no other British competitors.
Eddie’s journey to competitive ski jumping was not an easy one. He was disadvantaged by his weight and lack of financial support for training, being completely self-funded. He used his trainer’s ski boots, which we had to wear six pairs of socks to fill out. Eddie was also far-sighted, wearing thick glasses under his goggles, which would often mist up and affect his vision.
In 1987, Eddie first represented Great Britain in the Word Championship in West Germany and was ranked 55th in the world. The following year, Eddie competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics where he finished last in both of his events.
Eddie’s determination and unique charm made him a national icon. He starred in multiple advertisements, made international talk show appearances, and even recorded a single which charted in Finland.
In 2016, Eddie’s story was made into a biographical film ‘Eddie the Eagle’, starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman.
Eddie spoke to us about his rise to stardom from a plasterer to an Olympic national treasure. He took up a variety of jobs to support his lifestyle, including cutting grass, babysitting, and working in hotels. At one point, he even stayed at a Finnish mental hospital, not as a patient, but out of financial necessity.
Although he lacked support, funding, and sometimes even food and accommodation, Eddie was undeterred and continued to pursue his dream against all odds. He did not win in his sport or take home any medals, despite this, he held the British ski jumping record from 1988 to 2001 and won the hearts of many Olympic fans.
“Where is it written that the Olympics are only for winners?” – Eddie said at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games press conference
Eddie’s story is one of remarkable determination, resilience, and kindness, and our staff were completely enamoured. Read some of their takeaways here:
“Eddie was incredibly charismatic and inspirational. He was an incredible guest speaker.”
“What a refreshing take on resilience! Eddie is already well known, but to have the man himself tell us his story was really special. Everyone loves an underdog; but managing to go from scavenging bins for food to building his name into what it is now is a real story of making it work.”
“What I took away from Eddie is that you must abandon all feelings of embarrassment and shame when pursuing your dreams. He was so resilient, and although he never came first in his sport, he still reached Olympic level which is super inspiring and commendable.”
“Being kind was my biggest takeaway. Eddie explained that all the teams supported him when training by donating equipment and food, even when he was considered an outsider to the sport.”
“Eddie was a joy to listen to. He was such a warm and friendly person with an amazing story to tell. I came away feeling really uplifted.”