If you are a parent on the lookout for a role model for your athletically-inclined son or daughter, look no further than Michael “Eddie” Edwards, better known as Eddie the Eagle, a British ski jumper at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. If you’re not, that’s OK. You can just sit back and enjoy this charming tale about the spirit of the underdog.
Not the Athletic Type
Eddie (Taron Egerton) spent a year in the hospital as a child with bum knees. Other kids make fun of his knee brace but he doesn’t let that tarnish his hope that, one day, he can represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games. When his brace finally comes off, he tries all kinds of sports but he’s not what you might call the athletic type. During a day spent plastering at work with his dad, Terry (Keith Allen), Eddie discovers skiing. He gets into downhill but fails to make the British team. Janette (Jo Hartley), Eddie’s Mom, keeps on encouraging him no matter how many setbacks Eddie experiences.
Eddie the Eagle reminds me a bit of The Greatest Game Ever Played about Francis Ouimet, the amateur golfer. Both had fathers who wanted them to give up sports in favor of learning a trade that could support a family and both had mothers who defied those fathers in order to support the dreams of their children. Turning to ski jumping for his Olympic dream, Janette supplies Eddie with money (and his father’s van) so he can go to Germany to train. There is no British team so if Eddie can just qualify, he’s guaranteed to go.
What Goes Up...
Since Eddie ‘s naïveté and bumbling innocence embarrasses the British Olympic Committee, they devise bogus rules, telling Eddie he has to make a qualifying jump of 61 meters in order to go to the Calgary Games. Getting to Germany, he’s ridiculed by the Finns and the Norwegians, who have been jumping since they were little kids. After some rough spills on a small jumping hill, he enlists the help of Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a washed-up former jumper and drunkard maintaining the hills. Peary, reluctantly, helps Eddie learn how to properly take off and land.
Finally, in Calgary for the Olympics, Eddie again suffers the derision of some of his teammates but it seems like nothing can dampen his spirits. He’s fulfilling his lifelong dream. He’s there and it doesn’t matter to him whether he wins or comes in last (the latter being much more probable). Upon landing the shortest ski jump of the Olympics, he’s overjoyed. Jumping for joy and flapping his arms around endears him to the crowd who nickname him “Eddie the Eagle.”
Steadfast in Hope
The steadfastness Eddie shows in pursuing his Olympic dream can be a great example to us who follow Christ. Just like being an Olympian, being a follower of Jesus requires commitment and hard work. Sometimes we’ll land on our skis and sometimes we’ll tumble head over heel to the bottom of the hill. As disciples of Jesus, we’ll be mocked and scorned by the world around us but we find our joy, not in what others think of us but in Christ. Jesus says, “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).