Birthplace Westminster, London
Wife Alison, sons Samuel
The British Olympic Triple-jumper was born the son of a vicar, who encouraged him to get involved in sports from an early age. Edwards began triple-jumping while still at school. Throughout his life, he has been a committed Christian and throughout his success he has always claimed a commitment to serve God in everything he does. He graduated from Durham University in Physics, and has worked as a scientist in an electronics factory and as a genetics research officer in a hospital in Newcastle, where he lives with his family. In November 2002 Edinburgh University awarded him an honorary doctorate.
He first competed in the Olympics at Seoul, South Korea in 1988, but like Eric Liddell, Edwards refused to compete on a Sunday throughout his early career. As a result he missed the Olympic trials in 1988 and the European Cup in 1989, which in turn prevented him from competing in the 1991 World Championships. By 1993, though, he had changed his stance, believing that God had given him all his talents and that it could not be dishonouring the Sabbath to use them on a Sunday. Good timing, since the qualifying round for the triple jump of the World Championships in 1993, where he ended up winning a Bronze medal, was held on a Sunday.
He became famous in 1995, becoming the first man to jump over 18 metres in a first attempt at the triple jump at the World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, setting a world record only to break it twenty minutes later. His final record at that championship was 18.29 metres. The record had previously been held by Willie Banks of the USA, who wrote a congratulatory letter to Edwards after the Swedish championships, which was published in the British press. This performance earned Edwards the title of British sportsman of the year, 'BBC Sports Personality of the Year' and International Amateur Athletics Champion of the Year that year, going on to win the title of British Male Athlete of the Year again in 2000 and 2001.
Apart from this spectacular year, Edwards has won several medals, often at championships organised by the Internarional Amateur Athletics Foundation (IAAF): silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and 1994, the World Cup Triple Jump in 1992, a World Cup Bronze in 1993, a silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, a silver medal at the 1997 Athens games. His career has been up and down in this respect, but he has never lost his drive and will to compete, learning from his defeats in a way which further strengthened his religious faith. He finally won again at the European Championships in Budapest, 1998, where he set a championship record in the first round, of 17.84 metres, only to beat it in the final round with 17.99 metres. Having never managed to win the Olympic Gold, despite his record, he finally succeeded at Sidney in 2000, which is pretty impressive for a 34 year old and which earned him a CBE.
He continued to be successful right up until the end of his career, winning a Gold at the IAAF Grand Prix in 2000, silver in the Indoor Championships in 2001, Gold in the World Championships, 2001. He retired quietly in 2003, ceding the World Championships to Sweden's Christian Olsson. Always an all-round nice guy, Edwards never once became arrogant about his contribution to sports, and when competing internationally would always encourage his team, keeping spirits up and arguably improving their performances, too.