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Feel Good News: Ellis Coleman’s Mom Will Watch Him Wrestle in London

In other 2012 Olympics news, Yolanda Barral, mother of Ellis Coleman, will get to see her son perform the Flying Squirrel in London.

Thanks to the wrestling program at Coleman’s former high school, Oak Park-River Forest (Oak Park, IL), Barral, her two children, and her sister will get travel to London to support Ellis, a wrestler who became a YouTube sensation with his siganture move:

[Barral] quickly crunched the numbers and figured travel expenses would be at least $5,000, an amount that put the Games far out of reach. She had just spent her entire savings — the $500 tax refund that she received a few months earlier — to go to Iowa City for the Olympic trials.

“I tried to accept it,” said Barral, a single mother who answers customer service calls for the Illinois Tollway. “But it was devastating.”

Barral’s financial straits mirror those shared by relatives of other Olympians, particularly in lower-profile sports where many athletes are already struggling to make ends meet. Despite the attention lavished on millionaire swimmers and basketball players, the U.S. delegation is replete with athletes who still depend on the kindess of strangers — and former coaches, old classmates, parents of ex-teammates and others — for financial assistance.

In Barral’s case, it was the wrestling program at Oak Park High School, where Coleman helped the squad win a state title in 2009, that stepped forward to help. The group collected more than $14,000 at a fundraising event last week, enough to allow Barral, her two other children and her sister to be there when Coleman steps on the Olympic mat next month.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

Best of luck to Ellis!

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