Does anyone remember Eddie the Eagle? Well if you don’t or even if you do, you better read on because his story is a cracker, especially because we all, given an opportunity to poke fun at our former colonial masters, the British.
This is Eddie the Eagle…
Eddie the Eagle was the absolute epitome of the hilarity that was British society and British sport in the late ‘1980s. This was a time when the English cricket team lost the Ashes for the first time in four years and the team itself reached perhaps their lowest ever rating.
The late ’80s was a time when the Iron Lady was at her most powerful, but speculation was rife that she was running the country despite having potentially lost her mind after the 1984 – 1985 Miners Strike.
In the late 80s Prince Charles was the biggest name in Europe and his terrible teeth and hair were at their worst but he was still a massive celebrity. It was once reveled by a Buckingham Palace insider that Prince Charles was heard telling a mate that his daily routine involves ‘waking up and sitting around waiting for the Queen to die.’ She is still alive now!
And at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, Great Britain started their slump towards terrible mediocrity.
Needless to say the Poms were perhaps an ‘iconic’ lot back in the late ‘1980s. However Eddie the Eagle takes the cake. Eddie the Eagle was chosen to compete in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics in the best event (in my opinion) the ski jump. Have a look at a professional ski jumper…
These blokes are going well over 240m! It certainly is not a sport for the faint hearted. So what does this have to do with Eddie? Well Eddie, leading into the 88 Winter Games was the only bloke in England to have ever even thought about going off a ski jump and he had only ever done it once off a tiny jump. At the time he was by all reports, sitting in the pub and the British Olympic committee contacted him and told him he was to represent Britain at the up coming games. He had never jumped off an Olympic sized jump and it is even said that he was afraid of heights. But he was the best the Poms had and therefore he was off to Canada to compete.
It gets funnier… Eddie was horribly farsighted and as such he had to wear those big thick glasses even when he was jumping… and they fogged up every time!
So as could probably be expected, Eddie was a typical ‘heroic failure’, a term that was synonymous with British sportsmen of the time.
But it was not all bad. Eddie did land one jump. But they only let him do one jump for fear of death. His style actually looks ok…
Have a look at him! He looks terrified and when he actually lands and does not die he certainly is happy…
So why all the fame and infamy and the place on A Turf Fascination wisdom? Well Eddie was only allowed the one jump which was a nice 73.5m. Not bad for a bloke straight out of the pub who could not see. However his 73.5m was over 100m short of the second last place finisher and the best part of 200m shy of the world record! What makes it even more funny is that 73.5m was a British National Ski Jump record!
After the 1998 Calgary Games the IOC brought in the ‘Eddie the Eagle rule,’ which according to the IOC website reads…
‘All Olympic hopefuls are to compete in international events and place in the top 30 percent or the top 50 competitors, whichever is fewer in order to qualify for the Olympic Ski Jump.’
Eddie consequently failed to qualify for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville in France and the 1994 Games in Lillehammer. He managed to get a 5-year sponsorship from Eagle Airlines, a small British charter company, to fund his attempt to reach the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan but failed to qualify for those as well.
What a legend and a perfect advocate for the British Bulldog spirit that had the world laughing in the late ‘1980s.
Canterbury – Friday
3.7. Tickled Pink. Well named and flew at trackwork during the week…
5.2. Fabrizio. A potential gun stayer.
1.3 .Yellen. Loves this track.
5.1. Burning Front. Looks a certainty in a weak race.
7.3. Hucklebuck. Sprints well fresh and only has to beat Rebel Dane which will be hard.
9.4. Volcanic Ash. Lots of scratchings and hard to see this horse not running a place at worst.
1.1 Sooboog. Still might be a superstar.
2.4. Scarlet Rain. Fastest two-year-old filly in our stable.
7.10. Istanbul. Drops in weight and will be flying home.
2.3. Lauterbrunnen. Too go to be $20.
4.1. Royal Rumble. Owes us from an unlucky run last week.
Good luck and stay tuned.