"Few people know who won the 90 metre ski jump at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Everyone, however, knows that Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards came a definitive last, flapping both arms for mid-air balance and complaining that he could not see anything because his pebble spectacles steamed up during take-off.
"A plasterer from Cheltenham, he amazed everyone by deciding to enter the Olympics after several practice runs on the local dry ski slope. His fame went before him and a huge, cheering crowd met him at the airport where his plane arrived late and his bag split open so that every piece of his gear went round and round the luggage carousel with Eddie in hot pursuit.
"Next morning he found that his ski bindings had been crushed and so he missed his first two practice jumps while they were repaired. He got in one jump and survived only to find that he was locked out of his cabin with all his clothes inside.
"When he did get to the press centre, he was not allowed into his own press conference because he did not have the right credentials.
"Known as the 'barmy Brit,' he soon gained a huge following throughout the world. Millions watched his jump and when he landed he raised his arms in a salute normally reserved for the outright winner.
"A living embodiment of the Olympic spirit, he said that he did not train in the gym because it made him ache..."
[Edwards's qualification (no one else from England applied) prompted the IOC to institute an "Eddie the Eagle rule," stipulating that prospective Olympians must place in the top 30 percent of the top 50 competitors to qualify for the games.]