Winter Olympics - 60 seconds with Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards
Britain's legendary Olympic ski jumper talks about breaking his neck, ski jumping groupies - and why he'd risk his life to save his pants.
Who was your sporting hero growing up?
I never had sporting heroes - not then, not now - but I always had huge admiration for Franz Klammer when I was younger, and the way Matti Nykanen dominated my sport, ski jumping, was incredible. These days, I think Tiger Woods is the most unbelievable sportsman.
Tiger, eh? What did you make of the revelations about his affairs?
I actually think it's good in a way. He's had this God-like status for so long it's actually nice to realise that he's a human being just like the rest of us. And it's understandable to an extent. He's a good-looking guy, and a billionaire - temptation must have been everywhere for him.
When you came back from the Olympics in Calgary in 1988 you were one of the most famous people in the country. Did you have women throwing themselves at you like Tiger has?
Oh yes! Let's just say that there was lots of temptation from the opposite sex. I behaved myself for the most part, but had a few indiscretions. Not any more though - I'm a happily married man now - but those days were fun.
Did you ever have any idea the amount of attention you'd get in 1988?
Well I knew there would be some interest simply because I was the first British ski jumper to go to the Olympics. To be honest, all I was thinking at the time was to maximise the publicity to get more sponsorship to help me continue jumping; I had no idea that I'd end up so famous.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
A few years ago I was hired to open a tourist centre in Devon. The idea was that I'd be helicoptered over from Swansea and jump out in an eagle suit. All fine - but the problem was that the PR people weren't able to find an eagle suit, so I ended up dressed as a chicken instead. I was being paid good money to be there so I thought, what the hell, and went round flapping my wings and clucking like a chicken. It was excruciating!
Is crash-landing a ski jump the worst pain you've ever experienced?
Not at all. When I was 17 I was out skiing and got into a race with an Italian guy. I ended up crashing, breaking my neck and back, and was in traction for two weeks.
Woah. Didn't that put you off dangerous stuff?
Not for a second! But I'm a bit more careful these days when skiing quickly - particularly when there are Italians around!
What would you have been if you hadn't got into ski jumping?
Well, my day job - when I'm not doing PR appearances - is building and plastering, which has been my family trade for years. Who knows, though? I did get a law degree, but never enjoyed it much; maybe I'd have gone into engineering.
What's your most annoying habit?
Gosh! My wife could probably tell you a few but I can't think of any. Which means that it's probably 'not realising my own flaws'!
What would you sing at karaoke?
The easiest song possible! Probably something like Roy Orbison or the Beatles - so everyone could sing along and drown me out! I've got broad tastes when it comes to music - my iPod has everything from Meatloaf to Lilly Allen on it.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
I could give you a long, long list... but at the top would be Gordon Brown, Clive Woodward and Sebastian Coe.
OK. So who would be your three dream guests at a dinner party?
First I'd go for Lee Evans, the comedian, who I think is hilarious. Then Eric the Eel, (aka Eric Moussambani, the Olympic swimmer from Equatorial Guinea who competed in the 2000 Olympics), because I'd love to ask him if he's learnt to swim properly yet. And finally Margaret Thatcher. I think she was wonderful, dragging this country kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and I'd love to talk to her about it. Ooh, and also any of the Page 3 girls - you know, for a bit of scenery!
And finally, what would you save if your house was on fire?
Other than my wife and children, you mean? I've never been attached to mementoes, and though there are a few Olympic bits and pieces I'd like to keep I wouldn't honestly be bothered if they went up in smoke. I'd be a lot more likely to nip in and grab some clean pants!
Eddie is supporting the Npower Climate Cops, an education programme to help boost children's understanding of energy and environmental issues. Form more information see www.npower.com.
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