On 1 March 1988, Eddie the Eagle returned home to Britain a star, having come last in the Olympic ski-jumping event: 56th out of 56. He captured the nation's hearts as a great British loser: tripping over his baggage in front of the world's media; reading The Sun and waving to the crowds while lounging at the top of the 90ft slope before jumping. After the games he travelled to Finland to record a pop song only to find the composer had just died of a heart attack. In the wake of his sporting triumphs, the plasterer from Cheltenham gave press conferences and promoted Eagle T-shirts. But he didn't let such success go to his head, staying with his parents in a house that backed on to a hospital. Handy for an ski- jump accident in 1989 in which he broke his collarbone (bone-breaking being a regular pastime). He joked later that they "planned to do a brain scan to see if there was a brain there."
He didn't capture the hearts of the British Olympic Association, though, who banned him from competing at the Albertville games in 1992, on the grounds that he was jumping without due care and attention.
Wings of hope
Eddie's trademark bad luck started to become increasingly unlucrative. In 1993, he hit the headlines after clearing a 10-car ski-jump and damaging his own vehicle in the process (it had been parked too close to the ramp). By 1994, his star had begun to wane. Refused entrance at Lillehammer because he was wearing slalom rather than jumping skis, he was reduced to making public appearances by other means, opening a holiday home in Devon in a chicken outfit because it was the closest they had to an eagle. His latest idea is a comeback at the Winter Olympics in 1998. But he's getting on a bit. He may be able to fly, but can he land?
James AufenastReuse content