Waynesburg's Scott nearing end of journey

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Coleman Scott's path to London may have began in Waynesburg when he was 6 years old. Scott, now 26, once came home from first grade and told his mother, Mary, about a wrestling demonstration.

"I remember when he was in first grade and he brought the flier home, and that's what he wanted to try," Mary said.

"I remember thinking to myself, 'How is he going to remember to counteract all the moves?' I don't know how he does it."

Or it could be said the wrestler's journey to Saturday's 60-kilogram preliminary matches began when he finished fourth in the 2008 Olympic Trials.

"I was really disappointed," Coleman said before heading across the Atlantic.

"I don't know if I was prepared to win then. ... It took me a few years to reach this level."

It may be even more accurate to say Scott's path to London took off in earnest with the birth of his daughter, Leighton, June 6, 2011.

"She doesn't really understand too much," he said of his only child's knowledge of his profession.

"I think when we look back on it, and we can tell her in a couple years, she'll have a full understanding."

Scott won the 2008 NCAA title in the 133-pound weight class in his final match for Oklahoma State. Two years later he married his wife, Jessica, whom he met through a mutual friend during his senior year. When his family grew from two to three, Scott faced the difficult reality of chasing his Olympic hopes.

"It's definitely not a big money-making sport," he said.

"We have to figure it out, and find a way to support them, and that's what I want to do.

Admittedly, there have been times Scott wondered if it would be more responsible to find a more stable way of life.

"It's always been a thing there, should I just get into coaching and be more stable, or should I keep pushing?" said the three-time PIAA and four-time WPIAL champion, who spends some time as an assistant coach at his alma mater. "I've got a great wife, and she's backed me the whole way. She said, 'You can only have so long to wrestle.' "

In the past year, Scott has focused more and more on his training, won the Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa, in April, and finally earned his spot in London during a wrestle-off in Times Square in June. He has not had as much time to be a doting father as he would have preferred.

"Trying to raise her, with me being gone for a couple weeks at a time, it's hard," he said.

"But I think it's all better in the long run."

Before heading to London, Scott spent a few weeks at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., leaving only to spend a fundraising weekend in Waynesburg and then four days in Stillwater, Okla., with his wife and daughter. He has been in London since July 25, adding a few more weeks away from Leighton.

Scott has treated this experience as if it will be his last competitive wrestling. While he has enjoyed the sights -- posting multiple photos on Twitter of him with NBA stars such as Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, all towering more than a foot above the 5-foot-8 wrestler, during the opening ceremonies -- Scott mostly remains focused on the task on the mat. The difficulties of being away from his family and the challenges of qualifying for the national team again may make this his last competitive endeavor.

"I have to treat this like my last tournament," he said. "You're always a little bit more competitive when that happens, when it's your last tournament."

More than 70 family members and friends traveled to London to see Scott compete, but his daughter is in Stillwater with his mother-in-law. Similar crowds followed him from the 2008 NCAA championships in St. Louis to Iowa to New York City.

"It's awesome that they can make that sacrifice," he said. "It's a little thing I can pay back to them, giving them a chance to come to the Olympics."

That sizable cheering section remembers many of Scott's wrestling exploits. He remembers the disappointment that came with his 2008 Olympic Trials fourth-place finish. His daughter, however, knows of none of the past. A few years in the future, perhaps Scott will show her a medal of a certain color.

"Anytime I go into a tournament, I have one thing in mind, and that's to win."

Scott's gold-medal pursuit begins with a qualifying match at 8 a.m. NBC will air select matches on tape-delay at 2:15 p.m.

olympics - olympicsfeatures

Douglas Farmer: dfarmer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @D_Farmer.


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