LONDON, July 26 (Reuters) - American Greco-Roman wrestler Ellis Coleman is nicknamed the “flying squirrel” for a fearsome move he would prefer not to use at the Olympic Games.
Coleman only lets it out of its cage when he is losing, a situation the U.S. champion in the 60kg division will be trying hard to avoid.
The move is made up of several steps, starting with snapping his opponent’s head down then attempting to leap over him while simultaneously grabbing his waist and pulling the rival down.
Crowd pleaser yes, but it’s a last resort for the 20-year-old Olympic debutant who shares the nickname with compatriot Gabby Douglas, the exciting 16-year-old gymnast also in London.
“I hope I don’t get into that situation, as much as a lot of people came here to watch me wrestle want to see it. It’s a pretty high-risk move,” Coleman told Reuters.
”I don’t want to have to hit it, but if I do I‘m going to be a giant and make it happen.
“I‘m going to do whatever to get my takedown. If it doesn’t work, the flying squirrel’s coming out,” he said with a broad grin.
Coleman’s move has proved to be an internet hit and was an amusing distraction from the serious talk of Olympic competition as the American and five teammates answered questions on Wednesday.
His opponents know better than to fear the athletic manoeuvre according to Coleman, not that it has lost its ability to stun his rivals.
”I don’t think any opponent will be worrying about the move, they’ll be worried about scoring and winning the match.
“A lot of countries know the move. They’re trying to use it but I still don’t think, once I do it and if I get enough height, that they’ll be able to stop it.”
Its audacity is in keeping with the traditional American attitude to wrestling.
“Go all out, keep scoring, keep smashing your opponent and break them on the mat. That’s always been American tradition,” said Coleman, who grew up in a rough Chicago suburb.
“That’s how our best guys got their medals and that’s how the coach wants us to get our medals.”
Teammate Justin Lester echoed the bold policy.
“Expect me to score double the points back. For me it’s gold or nothing,” said Lester, who will compete in the 66kg category.
Coleman knows from experience that taking the foot off the accelerator can have disastrous consequences.
”The two times I lost this year I didn’t go for broke. I didn’t wrestle as hard as I could.
”I said to myself before this tournament I have nothing to lose, I have no reason to be nervous. I shouldn’t have anything to regret at the end of this tournament.
“I can’t wait for August 6,” he said in reference to the 24-hour time period that he will have to fulfill or dash his gold medal hopes.
Coleman has fought in the 66kg division and said dropping to the 60kg bracket would be “probably one of the hardest things” he has ever had to do.
“I‘m dreading having to lose this weight.” (Edited by Ossian Shine)