Greco-Roman wrestler Ellis Coleman is making his dreams a reality as he prepares for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
At 20, Coleman is the youngest member of the American Olympic Wrestling team, bringing much media attention to the sport, especially for his signature move.
The Oak Park native said his brother was the master behind the cleverly named “Flying Squirrel” move, first using it against Coleman while wrestling in high school. It has since brought him more success than he anticipated, turning him into a YouTube sensation overnight.
“I was just planning on going to the 2016 Olympics," said Coleman. “As time went by I wanted it more, and I can’t believe it happened so quick.”
Coleman said he and his brother will be planning a new move he hopes to debut in the future, whether or not he will debut it at the Olympics is unknown.
The athlete’s wrestling career began 11 years ago after his stepfather enrolled Coleman and his brother in an after-school wrestling program to keep them out of trouble in their neighborhood.
The early start has certainly shaped the turnout of Coleman’s career.
With his continued success, Coleman’s family, friends and community members have continued to support him.
“We’re just so proud of him for getting so far," said Cassandra Hutchinson, mother of an Oak Park High School student who wrestled alongside Coleman. “We just want to support him in any way.”
Members of the Oak Park & River Forest Wrestling family and other supporters plan on holding a fundraiser celebration to raise money so his family and girlfriend will be able to watch him compete in London.
"Our mission is to provide Ellis with all the support we can so that he will have little distraction and can concentrate on his training," said Fred Arkin, one of Coleman's former high school coaches.
A website with Ellis’ biography and accomplishments has also been created, allowing visitors to track his Olympic progress and send him support at www.elliscolemangold.com/the-flying-squirrel.
Hard at work training in Colorado, Coleman said he is ready to face his competitors in London and is grateful for the support he has received so far.
“I would just like to thank everyone who helped me get this far. My friends and family, my coaches, and with the help of God I am sure I can do anything,” said Coleman on his website.