"I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky." Michael Edwards, a bricklayer from Cheltenham, England, firmly believed in his outlandish dream of flying. The harsh reality of gravity very quickly brought him back down to earth at each of his attempts, but his enthusiasm gave him wings. When Edwards saw the Four Hills Tournament in Germany and Austria on television, he was fascinated by the way the jumpers flew magnificently into the valley. An eccentric idea was born. The idea of his life. Only two years later, he lined up at the start of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary as England's first-ever ski-jumper. He had only qualified because he was the only Brit in his discipline – and he had achieved it by training without snow.
Even when he arrived in Canada, one mishap followed the other. When the plane was being unloaded, his suitcase burst open and the man with coke bottle glasses had to go off in search of his underwear on the baggage conveyor belt. As he was doing so, his glasses fell to the ground and broke. And while picking up the pieces, Edwards' pants split. Nevertheless, he was so delighted to see numerous fans waiting to welcome him that he failed to see a glass door and promptly ran straight into it. His jumps were more like the unsuccessful attempts of an albatross to take flight, but "Eddie the Eagle" landed safely. The winners' rostrum remained out of reach though and he came last. However, the public and the press loved the bizarre Brit, who always treated his fans openly and with a big smile.
When the exceptional jumper Dieter Thoma from Hinterzarten in the Black Forest won the opening event of the 1988/89 Four Hills Tournament, Eddie was also involved. Again, he came last, in 109th place. The Englishman clearly lacked the real Black Forest spirit. The remaining events didn't prove to be any more fruitful. At the final event in Innsbruck, the Eagle fell and broke his collarbone. This was to mark the end of his brief career. The officials, who wanted to preserve the seriousness of their sport and the wellbeing of its participants, introduced a number of rule changes to ensure that "Eddies" of the future would no longer have a chance. The Olympic Committee also introduced a corresponding rule – the "Eagle Rule."
While the Black Forest's Thoma successfully commentated on television following a sporting career that earned him countless medals, Michael Edwards wasn't quite so fortunate. Family members were rumored to have embezzled his earnings from promotional appearances. He went on to study law, but is now back working in his original trade as a bricklayer. His eyes have been lasered, the glasses have gone, and hardly anyone recognizes him in the street. However, this could all change when his film biography is released in cinemas. A star-studded cast is expected. And he can still fly. At the 2013/14 Four Hills Tournament, the now 50-year-old became the Eagle once more and made the opening jump in Garmisch-Patenkirchen. For safety reasons, however, the proud Eagle had to make do with the kids' jump.