One of the big stars of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics came back to Calgary on Sunday.
Michael Edwards, better known as Eddie the Eagle was invited by Altius Nordic Ski Club to come to WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.
Edwards decided to get back into ski jumping recently after taking a break for almost 20 years. The 53-year-old admitted to feeling a bit anxious before soaring down the 60 metre jump, but he nailed it, much to the crowd’s delight.
“It’s lovely to be back here. It brings back so many memories,” Edwards said.
A crowd of around 1,000 people cheered him on.
Edwards sailed to fame at the Calgary Olympics not because of winning any medals. In fact, he came in dead last in both the 70m and 90m events.
But he faced many struggles just getting to the Olympics. Edwards didn’t have proper training and he had no sponsors. He was also the first British ski jumper since 1929.
“It’s always amazing when people say ‘I saw you in Calgary’ and they still remember very fondly what happened. It’s really refreshing the message was so powerful,” Edwards said. “To me getting to those Olympic Games was my gold medal.”
Some of the kids ski jumping at Canada Olympic Park on Sunday were born around 20 years after Edwards competed in Calgary, but now it appears his legend is motivating a new generation.
“I am so excited. He is such an inspiration to me. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks,” Ale Loutitt, 13, said.
“I think he’s pretty good because he wasn’t that good of a jumper but he had great guts,” Sam Duncalf, with the Altius Club, said.
Edwards was treated like a rock star as he was greeted the supportive crowd.
The last time Edwards was in Calgary was for the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. He said he never dreamed a movie would be made about the challenges he faced trying to get on the British team and compete in the 1988 Olympics. Edwards heartily approves of the film that came out last year.
“It’s really refreshing. The message was so powerful that 29 years later, with the movie out as well, that people still remember so fondly,” Edwards said.
“It says that nothing is impossible, that if you want to do it you could,” James Tourigny, 11, said.
A few years after the Calgary Olympics, the entry requirements were tightened to make it harder to qualify. Edwards didn’t qualify for any more Olympic games after Calgary.
As for his crowd pleasing jump in Calgary on Sunday, Edwards said he just wanted to test himself.
“To see if I’m brave enough to do it. It’s one of those things that I keep pushing myself, I’ve done since I was a little boy and I will always do it even now,” Edwards said.