Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards is going to be an Olympic athlete. He is sure of it. From an early age he begins training and telling others about it. He remains optimistic, in spite of the fact that he has weak knees and struggles to train without falling over and breaking yet another pair of glasses. Nothing can daunt young Eddie. Nothing can make him let go of his dream. He is going to the Olympics. When his dad persuades him the dream is mad he adjust his vision, he is not going to the Olympics after all, he is going to the winter Olympics. However, in spite of training to be a downhill skier he is rejected by the Olympic committee. But that’s not the end of it for Eddie.
Nothing can deter this optimistic young man. He teams up with washed up coach and former Olympic athlete, Bronson Peary who, in spite of his better judgment, agrees to pass on what he knows to the indomitable Eddie.
Joseph (in Genesis chapter 37) is surely one of the great optimists of the Bible. Like Eddie, he has a dream, and like Eddie, his family does not take him seriously. Before long the knock-backs start, really serious ones, and he find himself ridiculed and rejected by his brothers. And worse. Sold into slavery. Things improve when he is sold to a good employer and does well at his job, so well that he is given the run of the household. Then boom! the employer’s wife makes a pass at him and he finds himself in jail, on a trumped up charge. However, Joe is undeterred, whatever knocks him down, he gets up and keeps believing. Even in prison he won’t just bury his head and hide, instead he excels and does well. He’s trusted by the jailer and given responsibility and authority. Eventually, like Eddie, he is applauded and recognized, and begins to see his dreams come true.
The unusual and profound thing about Eddie’s story in this film is that he was never bent on outdoing all the other athletes. You often see him smiling as he watches others doing incredible ski jumps. Eddie was not there to beat others, he was there to fulfill his dream of being an Olympic athlete. Of competing, of taking part. Of doing what he was born to do. The film ends with this thoughtful quote from Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Olympic committee.
‘In the Olympics it is not the winning but the taking part that is important. In life it is not the triumph but the struggle that is important.’