Ellis Coleman performs a back flip after defeating Joe Betterman in their 60-kilogram Greco-Roman finals match at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials, Sunday, April 22, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
An Oak Park native whose "flying squirrel" wrestling move preceded his Olympic competition, lost Monday in the qualifying round.
Ellis Coleman, 20, a graduate of Oak Park High School, fell to Ivo Angelov of Bulgaria during his London debut, though he managed to use the tricky, signature move that went viral on YouTube back home.
But while there wasn't a medal at the end of Coleman's London journey, there wasn't a title for him during his senior year of high school, either. It was a disappointment that fueled his Olympic dreams, and he said his focus was on winning and on making his mother proud.
"Everything I do I do it for my mom. I walk for my mom. I live for my mom. I wrestle for my mom. Everything goes in her name and I hope she takes all the credit because she deserves all the credit," he said Monday.
Coleman has described his signature move as a monkey on his back and admitted to being apprehensive about it since he usually only utilizes it when he is losing. That unfortunately was the case Monday, and as time ran out, the "flying squirrel" couldn't keep him in the running for gold.
His mother, Yolanda Barral, told NBC Chicago through tears how proud she is of him.
"I'm so proud of my son," she said. "He accomplished so much and been through so much, and I'm just so proud of him that he made it this far."
Coleman became the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team this summer when he beat fellow Chicagoan Joe Betterman 2-0 in the finals of the Greco-Roman 132-pound class thanks to the move.
"He wasn't born into a family that bought him personal trainers or coaches. He is a self-made person, and that's what the Olympic Spirit is all about. So, yeah, I couldn't be more proud," said coach Mike Powell.
Coleman seemed to make the most of his time at Olympic Park, even entertaining the international media with a story about his pet flying squirrel named Rocky.
"I keep him in a cage and he just hops around all the time at night. And he sleeps during the day," he said, drawing laughter from reporters.
Before Coleman left for London, members of the Oak Park & River Forest Wrestling family and other supporters held a fundraiser to help Coleman's family and girlfriend travel to London and watch him compete.
"We’re just so proud of him for getting so far," Barral said. "We just want to support him in any way."