Every four years when the Winter Olympics approach the man whose performances saw the rules changed is always rolled out to talk about his memories of Calgary in 1988. We are of course talking about Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards.
In a recent interview the now 50 year old Edwards claimed that at the height of his career as the lowest ranked Ski jumper he was the George Clooney of the slopes. Behind his oversize glasses there obviously lurked a sexual allure as Edwards claims he had groupies regularly beating a path to his chalet door. “What was on offer was more than I could manage,” he is quoted as saying; Not sure that George Clooney would say that as with all the coffee he seems to drink he will have no problems staying up all night!
Funnily enough despite a record 57 nations competing in Calgary and from those nations 1,423 athletes participating now one seems to recall that the then Soviet Union won the most medals at 29, followed by the former Eastern part of modern Germany with 25.
Calgary is remembered more for its heroic failures, the Jamaican bobsleigh team immortalised in the movie “Cool Runnings” and Eddie “The Eagle.”Eddie gained infamy by finishing last in both the 70 and 90 metre events and was 70 and 53 points behind his next closest competitor; however how many people would genuinely have attempted what he did?
It was not a good games for Canada or their fans who remember the Games for being the host nation and failing to win a gold medal in an official medal event, just as it had failed to do in Montreal in 1976.
As for Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, after locking the doors to keep his admirers out, his “heroic failure” saw him become an instant celebrity. He reportedly went from earning £6,000 per year as a plasterer before the Games to making £10,000 per hour per public appearance after the Games.
The International Ski Federation were embarrassed by his stardom and the gold medal winners annoyed at his stealing the limelight as a result the rules were altered following Calgary to eliminate each nation’s right to send at least one athlete and they set minimum competition standards for all future events.