People have been laughing at me all my life. From school in Cheltenham to the ski jump slopes of Calgary in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Even my own dad told me: “You’re not an athlete!”
I didn’t mind. After all, I got the last laugh!
I’d tell them that I’d been following a dream I had since I was a kid: to represent my country at the Olympics. I just needed to find the right sport.
I got the skiing bug on a school trip at 13, learned to ski on dry slopes, and worked in Glenshee for a season.
Other skiers had beautiful alpine slopes on their doorsteps, the best equipment, and they’d been skiing since they were in nursery school.
They didn’t have to deal with thick glasses that misted up when I was at altitude. I was also in hospital for a year as a kid. All the doctors said I should give up sport.
It was always going to be different for me. I knew I’d have to work hard just to get to the games.
I didn’t make the cut as a downhill skier, but I was determined to get to the Olympics somehow.
There weren’t any British ski jumpers, so I set my sights on getting that place and being the first British ski jumper since 1928.
When she heard about it, my mum said: “He’s going to break his neck!”
My dad joked: “I’M going to break his neck!
I decided I’d take ski jumping very seriously. Almost as seriously as I take proving people wrong!
I got myself some coaches and learned everything I could as quickly as I could – how to lean into the jump, how to take off efficiently, and how to land WITHOUT breaking my neck.
There were so many changes to make for me to go from skier to jumper.
I was doing sixty practise jumps a day.
When I stood at the top of the 70m jump and then the 90m jump, I thought about how far I’d come. How that sick little boy in Cheltenham had become Eddie the Eagle and learned to fly.
It didn’t matter that I came last.
At the closing ceremony of the 1988 games, Frank King, the president of the organising committee, told us: "You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. Some of you have even soared like an eagle!”
I’d become an Olympian and, in the process, I changed my life forever.
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