Ellis Coleman on the US Greco Performance

Bryan Van Kley interviews Ellis Coleman on the US Greco Performance:

Ellis Coleman spoke to WIN editor on Aug. 9 about his first Olympic experience. The 20-year-old native of Chicago, Ill., appeared on the Today Show after competing at 132 pounds in the Greco-Roman tournament on Aug. 6.


On the entire Olympic experience

It was cool coming into the (athletes’) Village. Coming in with all the guys and having that bond as we all had that common goal. It was a fun experience getting our weight down and training together and sitting in the room watching all the other events. I feel like our team bonded even more…. at that point that was the closest we were. As time got closer, everybody had their own mindset and branched off and do their own thing a little bit.


On the Greco-Roman’s Olympic performance

Obviously we didn’t perform as we projected ourselves to do. I personally think, as well as the coaches do, which we came out tight. That’s the difference between the best guys and the guys who don’t make it as far. A lot of people were hoping and wishing for a win rather than taking it. Even now watching the tournament, the best people that do well go out there and force their style and take the win. They go out there and put their hands on people and attack relentlessly. You can’t sit by and hope to win and bank on the ref giving you the win and banking on that person making a mistake. You have to put the pressure on them and force them to make a mistake.

I started out slow in my first period. That was a little bit of nerves just getting out there and getting a feel for the mat. Second period, I started getting the ball rolling and wrestling my style. I had a couple takedowns I messed up on and was playing catch up. When you’re playing catch up in the match, it’s tough to come back. I wish I would have had another chance and he would have pulled me through the bracket. I couldn’t get that redemption … but that’s how it is in these big tournaments. You’ve got to go out the first match and expect yourself to be an Olympic champion.


On whether there was more pressure than he thought?

It was exactly what I had expected. I felt like I prepped myself right. I couldn’t have been in better position stepping out there on that mat, mentally and physically. When it hit the fan, things just change instantly. That clock is moving so fast. Six minutes feels like 30 seconds. Everything happens so quickly. The thing that worried me most was getting tired and forcing my offense, not being able to go on through the match and finish it off strong. When those points were scored, it happened quickly. My reactions just weren’t right.


On U.S. coach Steve Fraser’s comments that big changes need to be made in Greco.

Personally, my take on that is that the coaches don’t wrestle for us. Each and every person could have went out there and got a medal. We have the ability and we’re the best guys in America. We have the ability to do it. It’s not the coaches’ faults. It has nothing to do with the coaches and the way they’re running anything. The mental game is just a big thing for our team. A lot of guys didn’t see themselves going out there and doing it and taking it. We gave other countries too much respect. I don’t know if it has to deal with us not getting medals the last two years or what.

We put these other countries on a pedestal and hold them up high. You have to come out there and wrestle regardless. There’s a lot of stuff that ties into it with Greco not being as popular as freestyle and not wrestling at a young age. And that’s a big part of it. But then again, they have folkstyle/collegiate wrestling from high school through college. We still have people winning medals and being the best in the world (in freestyle) despite the fact that other countries wrestle freestyle year around. If you wrestle as hard as you can ever match, you should win.


On putting the flying squirrel on Matt Lauer…

 That was THE highlight of my Olympic Games, doing that skit with Matt Lauer and Al Roker. It was pretty cool and fun the whole time. He’s a real good guy. They kept it interesting and fun. I loved it.

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