Eddie „The Eagle“ Edwards: It´s not important to win but take part and enjoy it

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We are not sport fans but somehow the name Eddie Edwards has stuck into our mind in 1988 when Czechoslovakian TV showed spots from Olympic Games in Calgary. I always appreciated underdogs rather that firm number ones so despite finishing last in competition Eddie won my sympathy. Then for more than two decades we had no idea what does Eddie do but recent film “Eddie The Eagle” return us back to him. We really liked the movie and tried to find where we could write him. We tried his management and other contact without luck (managements rarely reply- we wonder what they are paid for) so we tried his foundation and BINGO, Eddie replied.

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In the movie it is shown that not only sport officialdom but also you mates were looking at you through their fingers and with disrespect, is it right?

In the team there we many rich guys who could ski only because their parents owned chalets in the Alps so they could go on the slopes when ever they liked. I could only use training slope in Gloucester. The worst thing was the behavior of our sport officials who thought they own the whole federation and they know the best how to promote skiing. I would think that not much has changed since that time. They took me as shame of British representation. When I came to Calgary people thought that I can´t even ski, which wasn´t the truth, I was a good skier but press like it and could make a good story out of it and I had a lot to explain later. When I qualified for another Olympic games and fulfilled the limit, federation changed it so I was out again. They always tried put spanner into my work.

It seems that you sacrificed everything to your dream of getting to Olympic Games. Did you really sleep in cleaning tools cabinet and had no money for food?

We had plenty of skiers but no jumper so I thought I could get this way and give it a try. I was poor and soon I run out of money. When I firstly went to Switzerland to try jumping, I slept in the chalet with Scouts who shared their supplies of Heinz beans. Otherwise, I ate what was left and I found in the dustbins. Italian jumpers gave me goggles and helmet since mine was old and badly fit on my head. During competition in Finland, I slept in barns and even in lunatic asylum since I couldn´t afford the hotel. I underwent all this since I had a dream of going to Olympic Games. Ordinary development time for jumper is five years, I qualified after twenty months.

Even when you finished last in the Olympic Games people celebrated you as a winner. What do you think made them act like this?

I think people took liking in me since I was personification of the true Olympic Games spirit which says that it is not important to win but to take part. Even at that time the Olympic Games were very professional and suddenly there appeared somebody who jumps on the skies despite the fact that his country doesn´t have snow and even ski jumps. I really was happy to be at Olympic Games and I really enjoyed my time there. I am pleased that the film was made according to my story and it can inspire people to follow their dreams. More such films should be made.

One needs courage to jump from giant ski jumps. Is it truth that you picked up the courage before each jump by swearing?

I was scared before each jump and just before take-off I shouted shit. I had big enough fear to be able to concentrate but not big enough to prevent me from taking off. I never got used to it. My disadvantage was goggles that got misty and often I even didn´t see the landing spot.

You were big celebrity, then it faded away and now you are back in vogue again after the film was screened. How did it happen that film was made?

It´s quite a long story. Way back in 1999 I got an offer for the film to be made so I started working on script with other collaborators. But then troubles came, money dried up, they couldn´t find the right actor and whole project was shelved and I forgot about that. In the middle of 2015, I got a call from producer who bought out the rights and shooting begun within six weeks. It went pretty quickly. When I watched the movie, I was moved since then I realized what I went though what I sacrificed and what I have achieved.

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It the film 100 % true or there are some made up stories?

It is very very true, but I didn´t have one coach I had many of them but to make the story simpler they all got into one character. I hoped they won´t make me as some super hero or blockhead but it ended up well. You know, when I was a small guy, I always heard from people I can´t do this or I mustn´t do this, that I can´t manage that etc. Their distrust really intrigued me and I wanted to show them what I am capable of. I would be pleased if apart the entertaining factor film would motivate people in making their dreams real despite the obstacles. I don´t think the loss it to end up midway through or don´t reach at the peak in the end, the real loss is, not even try that. If you try something and you loose, it´s not the end of the world but at least gave it a go.

Was it all worthy?

Yes, for sure. I am the only sportsman who was mentioned in final ceremony speech. When I arrived home, police awaited me and I though they came to arrest me, but they told me that outside the airport hall gathered 10 000 people to see me and they are here to protect me. I intended to go home by bus or by taxi and now such welcome. What more could I ask for?


Photos, thanks: IMDb