Earlier in July, Fourth-Place Medal’s inimitable Maggie Hendricks posed an essential question for all true U.S. Olympic fans: Which of the nation’s two athletes nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel” truly deserves the nickname?
While pint-sized gymnast Gabrielle Douglas may have garnered more attention for her position on one of the Games’ most high-profile teams, 20-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler Ellis Coleman has provided the ultimate coup de grace to prove his worthiness of the nickname: He actually owns a real, live flying squirrel.
As first reported by the Chicago Tribune, and picked up upon by Off the Bench and a handful of other outlets, Coleman recently purchased a flying squirrel as a pet, taking care of him at his training base in Colorado Springs. The family of the wrestler’s chiropractor is caring for the pet while Coleman is in London, but the two will be reunited as soon as the Illinois native returns from the Games.
[Photos: Olympic mascots]
Coleman earned his nickname because of his signature wrestling move, which has been called the flying squirrel. The youngest member of the U.S. wrestling squad, Ellis first pulled out the famed flying squirrel at the World Junior Championships and never looked back.
He even moved quickly to claim the nickname as his own, naming himself @DaFlyingSquirrel on Twitter. Yet, unbeknownst to Coleman’s own fans, the wrestler took his nickname to an entirely new level by actually purchasing a flying squirrel near his training base of Colorado Springs.
You’ll be shocked to learn that Coleman’s squirrel — which he has rather appropriately named Rocky (of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame) — was an impulse buy. Here’s what the Olympic wrestler told the Tribune about his pet:
“When he has fully bonded, I can put him in my pocket and pretty much take him wherever I want to go,” Coleman told reporters at a media availability today. “I’m trying to bond with him and get on a higher level with him, but right now he bites me all the time.”
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Are those attacks an indication that Coleman has taken this whole “Flying Squirrel” nickname a step too far? Perhaps, though the star insists that he and Douglas can both be flying squirrels, especially if they both earn a spot on medal stands in the weeks ahead.
“There’s definitely room for two flying squirrels,” Coleman told the Tribune. “As far as I concerned [sic], I’m just going out and earn my name.”
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