Aberdeen’s Sports Awards host Eddie the Eagle Edwards thinks the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded athletes their most important tool is their attitude.
A worldwide sensation when he overcame the odds to represent Great Britain at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Edwards has noted parallels with his own story for competitors across sport over the last 18 months.
He reckons sports people have been required to “fend for themselves”, with coronavirus necessitating training facilities and competition be shut down for extended periods.
However, he is looking forward to celebrating those Granite City sportspeople who have continued to thrive, despite the difficulties, as well as the city’s coaches, volunteers and clubs, at P&J Live on January 20 next year.
Eddie said: “Going through something like a pandemic wouldn’t have affected me at all.
“Because I couldn’t join the gyms – they were too expensive – I used to do my own training, whether that was down the rec doing interval training, sprints, all that kind of stuff.
“I worked with my dad in building, so, instead of using weights, I could use a concrete block. When that became too light, I used two concrete blocks.
“You don’t need the high-tech, state-of-the-art machinery to train. You can do it very easily down the park.
“I think the pandemic was quite good for that. Athletes realised: ‘Actually I can do it a different way’.”
Edwards reckons some people will have taken the ‘easy’ route of scaling back their sporting efforts due to facilities being shut down.
However, he thinks inner drive has been the crucial factor for those who have continued to chase their goals, saying he would’ve told all athletes: “If you want it, this won’t affect you. You can still do your training and, if you really want it bad enough, you will do it.”
Edwards was the first British ski jumper at the Winter Games for 60 years and, although he finished last in both the large hill and normal hill events, his underdog story captivated millions around the globe.
Asked what those attending Aberdeen’s Sports Awards can expect from him in his role as master of ceremonies, Eddie – who once worked a season at Glenshee Ski Centre – said: “It can be all sorts of things – I talk about some of things I done before Calgary, some of the situations I found myself in on my way to the Olympic Games, how I started ski jumping and how I got the name Eddie the Eagle.
“I try to keep it as light-hearted as possible.”
Edwards’ story was the subject of a 2016 movie, titled “Eddie the Eagle”, which became the highest grossing British film of the year.
Although he has appeared on TV regularly since his Olympic exploits, the film has brought the lessons of his unconventional journey to sport’s biggest stage to a new generation.
Eddie said: “It’s been wonderful, and it’s nice when I go and do my talks. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old now. The older people can remember Calgary. Then (for) the younger people who weren’t born back then, I’ve got the movie.
“The film was brilliant and I think it’s about 85% true, but only represents 15/20% of my life as a ski jumper.
“What they did do they did really well, and they really captured the heart and spirit of my story.
“It showed that for me the biggest tools in my toolbag were resilience, tenacity and never giving up. That’s important not only in sport, but in life.”
The 2022 edition of Aberdeen’s Sports Awards will be the first time the event celebrating Granite City sporting achievement – which has been under the stewardship of the Evening Express since 2018 – will have been able to take place for two years due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
Nominations for 16 categories, from the Community Sports Project of the Year and Inspiration awards, to Club of the Year and Sport Achiever of the Year, are now open.
Eddie said: “I’d encourage people to nominate as many people as you can in any field of sport. If they’ve achieved something, nominate them.
“I’m assuming it’s not just the athletes who will be recognised, but the coaches, volunteers – all of these people are deserving of awards for their contribution to the sport and for athletes to achieve their dream.
“You do need these people, who often do it for no money, just because they love the sport.”
To view the Aberdeen’s Sports Awards categories and criteria, and to make a nomination, visit: www.dctevents.com/event/aberdeensportsawards