I recently wrote an article about a goal achievement lesson that came to me while I was watching the ski jumping. In it I mentioned that ski jumping here in the UK was still linked by most people to Eddie The Eagle, and that I should really write an article about him. So, here it is, and he’s not quite the laughing stock you might think…
Michael Edwards got the nickname ‘Eddie The Eagle’ when he launched himself into the international sporting awareness as a spectacular failure in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
He came last.
Now, someone always has to come last, but in this case it was a seemingly eccentric Brit who had only been jumping for 2 years and was way too heavy. He also was so farsighted that he wore thick glasses which steamed up so he couldn’t see.
Add to that his gormless smile and cheerful outlook, and he was a media story waiting to happen. At the closing ceremony of the Games, the President of the organising committee said “At this Games, some competitors have won gold, some have broken records, and some of you have even soared like an eagle.”
Not everyone was so endeared by Edwards though, most notably the ski jumping world, many of whom felt he was making a mockery of their sport.
Let’s look a bit closer at his journey to take some goal achievement inspiration…
It was actually downhill skiing that was Edwards’ sport – he missed out on the GB team for the 1984 Olympics, and moved to the US to improve his chances for 1988.
Even if we go no further, there some great goal achievement lessons – he tried for a set goal, didn’t make it, but decided to take different steps to try again for the next 4 years instead of giving up.
He was doing all this without sponsorship, and found himself short of money. He decided that it was cheaper if he switched to ski jumping, and he also knew that being the only British jumper increased his chances of getting to the Olympics.
If that seems dramatic, to change from downhill to ski jumping, then it was! His attitude though, was ‘why not?’ and within 2 years he had got himself into the world’s top 60, getting him into the ‘88 Winter Olympics at Calgary.
He didn’t take part as a joke or a novelty. He didn’t take part expecting to win either, but he did take part as someone who was trying their best after making huge efforts just to get there.
When you throw in the personality he had compared to some fairly dour and serious competitors, and it’s not surprising that Eddie The Eagle began to soar.
Following those Olympics, 2 things happened…
Firstly, the International Olympic Committee changed their qualification rules, to make qualification harder. Edwards fell foul of these rules, failing to qualify for the Olympics in 1992, 1994 and 1998.
Although qualification rules still apply in both Winter and Summer Games, the Committee still *invites* competitors to take part who would otherwise have no place there. That’s based on an ideal of shared values about taking part, and it’s a legacy from Eddie that is still seen in London 2012, nearly 25 years after he came down the hill.
Secondly, Edwards made a lot of money. He found that he was in huge celebrity demand, making thousands of pounds an hour. The money didn’t last as he lost out to some corrupt management, but it’s the story of his efforts that hits home with me…
He went for his goal. He tried to qualify for 5 Olympics, on his own, self funded and self motivated.
That shows huge determination, and when he succeeded and got to the 1988 Games, he was both ridiculed and lauded in equal measure, with his efforts bringing in the cash and huge celebrity.
He’s always smiling in his interviews, and that’s what I think we should do when we think of him. Look to your own goal, and while others dismiss him as just a mad, bad British ski jumper, why not let your optimism ambition fly at the story of Eddie The Eagle Edwards!
That’s it for today – don’t forget to let me know what you think!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. Here’s that article about the ski jumping lesson: Goal Achievement And Ski Jumping Style Marks!
P.P.S. Read more about goal achievement in my book ‘Transform Your Life in 21 Days! described as ‘motivational magic!’