Eddie the Eagle heartbreak as skier laid bare struggles: 'No luck'

The Beijing Winter Olympics is set to start this week, with athletes from all over the world preparing for their time on the world’s stage. Team GB will be out in full force in the Chinese capital. The country has competed at every Winter Olympics since the event began in Chamonix in France 98 years ago.

This year, a squad of 50 British athletes will battle to win the most gold medals.

In 23 Winter Games, Britain has won a total of just 32 medals — not a great track record.

Perhaps one of the country’s best-known performances in the Winter Games — and not because of the outcome — came in 1988 with the entry of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, whose real name is Michael.

Edwards became the first competitor since 1928 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping.

While he finished last in the Normal Hill and Large Hill events, the Eagle did hold the British ski jumping record from 1988 to 2001, and his stint at the games has become legendary.

Little has been said of Edwards since his time in the spotlight, apart from a 2016 film that chartered his rise and entry to the competition, a fear which was entirely self-funded.

Last year, however, he sat down with The Sun and revealed that he was struggling to find a match in his love life since getting a divorce.

The 58-year-old said he had not had a “jump” for years, and added: “I’m always open to meeting somebody and falling in love again.

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In 2021, he appeared as a Rubber Chicken on ITV’s, ‘The Masked Dancer’.

In his spare time, Edwards also took part in amateur speed skiing, running at 106.8 km/h (66.4 mph).

He later became a stunt jumping world record holder for clearing six buses.

His passion for the sport came from a school trip to the slopes aged 13, where he developed a knack for skiing on drop slopes, later going on to work a season at Glenshee in Scotland.

Not securing the grades to make it as a downhill skier, he switched to ski jumping as there were no other British ski jumpers at that time to compete with.

From the offset, he was faced with a number of challenges: a lack of finances and being short-sighted, meaning he had to wear thick glasses under his skiing goggles that would often mist up at high altitudes.

He was ranked 55th in the world when he first represented Great Britain at the 1987 World Championships in Oberstdorf in Bavaria, West Germany.

But his performance qualified him to compete in the Winter Olympics the following year.

While he came last at the competition, his lack of success endeared him to people around the world, and for a time he became something of a media celebrity.

He appeared on talk shows around the world, like The Tonight Show, and the press nicknamed him Mr Magoo, while an Italian journalist described him as a “ski dropper”.

At the closing ceremony, the president of the Organising Committee, Frank King, singled out Edwards for his contribution, and said: “You have broken world records and you have established personal bests.

“Some of you have even soared like an eagle.”

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