As much as some of the actual facts may have been modified, the movie, “Eddie the Eagle,” is a beautiful story of one man’s perseverance in the face of incredible odds.
This biopic of the life of Michael “Eddie” Edwards has all the ingredients of the story of an underdog who shows everyone that he’s more than what they think he is. This underprivileged man, a plasterer from a city west of Oxford, England, participates in the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988, despite no one else believing in him and several physical handicaps. Not to mention his lack of talent.
But for everything that Eddie is short on, he is never short on one thing: determination.
When Eddie is young, he is in the hospital for a year because of his bad knees. As he gets older, his blue collar parents can barely afford the fees for Eddie’s ski equipment, as Eddie dreams of becoming an Olympic skier.
Not only is he born in Great Britain which has no ski slopes, Eddie has not been properly trained as a skier. When he realizes he won’t ever be accepted into the ski team representing his country at the Olympics, Eddie decides to become a one-man squad for the ski jumping team from Britain. He pays his own way to train in Germany (according to the movie -- this varies from the actual facts, namely that Eddie began jumping in Lake Placid, NY) and with some luck finds someone to train him, although reluctantly.
Nevertheless, Eddie becomes the record holder for ski jumpers in Britain, despite finishing 73rd out of 73 competitors in both the 70 meter and 90 meter events at Calgary. He is Britain’s first (and only) Olympic ski jumper.
The story of how he became an unlikely superstar catches the attention of the press at the time, and endears him to audiences watching around the world.
Rather than being an embarrassment, this gentle and easy-going man is a national treasure for Britain, a living legend.
What I took away from this movie is that it doesn’t always matter that you have talent or support or even luck. What matters is that your heart is in it.
Eddie hears from many people in his life, including his parents, that he’ll never be an athlete, that he should give up on his dreams to be in the Olympics. But like some of the other stories of an underdog overcoming great odds, such as the real race horse Seabiscuit or the fictional ballet dancer Billy Elliot, they fill us with hope.
Yes, we may be smaller, or fatter or not as pretty. Yes, we might not have the breeding or come from the “right” family or socio-economic background. Yes, we might not have the body that matches “their” idea of the ideal athlete, dancer, or runner. None of that matters. What matters is our heart.
Please remember this whenever you have a dream and others are trying to talk you out of it. Please remember that, like one skier says to Eddie in the movie…
It's what life is all about, really. Doing our best, living according to what is in our hearts. Being true to who we are, no matter who doesn't believe in us. Eddie, ultimately, personifies everything that the Olympics stands for.
I think of my own struggles to overcome my shyness and fear of being in the public eye in order to be an entrepreneur, a teacher of life, a life coach. I sometimes think: "Who am I to speak about living life to the max when so many times I have withdrawn and hidden myself away behind comfort and safety?"
But then I see movies like this and I am again reminded that it's not about permission or approval or anything like that. It's about what I'm drawn to do. I know I can't NOT tread this path, as much as I struggle with it. It's something bigger than just me. It's about allowing my spirit to shine, and like the quote I love to refer to so much these days, I know: "We are all meant to shine, as children do."
Fight well, my friends. Be in the struggle and just do your best, because it’s worth it to free your soul.