Britain Welcomes Home Olympic Underdog Eddie ‘The Eagle’
LONDON (AP) _ The underdog hero of the Winter Olympics, British ski-jumper Eddie ″The Eagle″ Edwards, has been offered a recording contract and may soon appear in commercials endorsing a brand of vodka.
Edwards, who became the Olympics’ favorite loser, flew home to a hero’s welcome Tuesday. He was the last man off the plane.
A plasterer from Cheltenham, in southwest England, Edwards won the hearts of this nation of underdog-lovers by finishing last in ski-jumping events in Calgary. He arrived at Heathrow Airport with the 100-member British team, some of whom wore ″Eddie The Eagle″ T-shirts.
Edwards, 24, trooped into the airport to be greeted by flower-throwing fans and an army of photographers, reporters and television crews.
″I’ve made it, I’ve made it to the Olympics,″ The Eagle said. ″That’s all I cared about.″
Alfred and Catherine Heath, a retired couple from Wimbledon, were among the well-wishers. ″We saw him on TV,″ said Heath. ″He was just wonderful.″
″He’s got guts,″ said John Ward, a transport executive. ″He’s captured the imagination of people.″
Edwards was Britain’s first ski-jumper in the Games for more than 50 years.
He finished last in both the 70-meter and 90-meter events, but endeared himself to millions of armchair athletes with his gangly, bemused clumsiness, enhanced by the thick glasses that gave him a bird-like look.
His hometown is planning a parade for him on Thursday.
Edwards said he was suprised by all the publicity he received, but said: ″I’m going to try not to let it get in the way. Nothing’s going to change. I’m still a jumper. I’m still training.″
When he was asked if fame might go to his head, Edwards replied: ″I’ll try not to let it.″ He confirmed, however, he intends to cut a record titled ″Fly, Eddie, Fly.″
Edwards signed up an agent, London music promoter Simon Platz, who told a British TV interviewer The Eagle would cut the record today. ″He says he can sing, and that’s good enough for me,″ said Platz.
Edwards also was negotiating a deal to endorse Vladivar, a brand of vodka.
″It’s great to actually have somebody who’s prepared to have a smile at themselves - and keep on coming last. That’s very important,″ Phil Staniforth, the vodka company representative, told the interviewer.
Critics had said Edwards should not have entered the Olympic events because of the danger, but he said, ″I proved them wrong.″
″I’ve only been jumping two years, and the trainers I’ve talked to say there’s no reason I can’t get into the top five. Hopefully, I’ll be a force to reckon with next year.″
But in the meantime, Edwards said he wanted to get back to his job as plasterer. ″It’s a nice rest, plastering,″ he said.