A hug was not enough: "I will only meet her once. I wanted to do something different," Team USA wrestler says of lifting First Lady...
First Lady Michelle Obama got a special greeting from U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestler Elena Pirozhkova on Friday morning, during a breakfast for Team USA in London. As she made her first official appearance as head of the Presidential Delegation to the Olympics, Mrs. Obama spoke to the athletes and wished them luck in the games. Pirozhkova decided that instead of a handshake in the receiving line, she'd pick Mrs. Obama up. The photo above became Photo of the Day on the White House blog. Mrs. Obama's Director of Communications, Kristina Schake, is the red head smiling in the background.
CLICK HERE for links to all Olympic posts.
Pirozhkova, 25, asked Mrs. Obama for permission before hefting her into the air, she said in a statement from USA Wrestling released to USA Today.
"I hugged her, and then I asked her if I could pick her up. I think she was nervous. I went slow. I just picked her up. I wanted to ask her permission," Pirozhkova said. "There was security all around. And she gave it. I will only meet her once. I wanted to do something different.''
"Even before she made the rounds I thought I can't just hug her like everybody else."
A native of Russia, Pirozhkova moved to the US with her family when she was three years old. She is 5-foot-5 and competes in the 138.75-pound class. Mrs. Obama is 5'11. Pirozhkova’s teammate Clarissa Chun posted the photo above on Twitter after the historic moment, writing "Elena picked up the First Lady."
Chun, who is from Hawaii, also tweeted: "The First Lady, showing love for the 808! #hawaiipride." The 808 is the area code of President Obama's home state of Hawaii.
"You've got a country back home who is rooting for you every single second," Mrs. Obama told the athletes during her remarks at the breakfast. "Try to breathe a little bit. But also win -- right? In the end, winning is good."
Delegation members Grant Hill; Brandi Chastain; Dominique Dawes; Summer Sanders; and Paralympian Gabriel Diaz de Leon joined Mrs. Obama at the breakfast held at the US Olympic Training Facility at the University of East London.
After the meet n' greet Mrs. Obama hosted a Let's Move! London event at Winfield House, the Regent's Park residence of US Ambassador Louis Susman. She was joined by 2,000 British and American children, according to the White House.
*Top photo by Sonya N. Hebert/White House; second by Clarissa Chun.