Friday, September 14, 2012

President Obama, First Lady Welcome Olympians And Paralympians To The White House

"We could not be prouder of you," President says; Mrs. Obama thanks Team USA and USOC for supporting the Let's Move! campaign...
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden and on Friday morning praised Olympic and Paralympic athletes for their performance at the 2012 Summer Olympic games as hundreds of uniformed and medal-wearing members of Team USA gathered on the South Lawn for a brief ceremony. The athletes collectively brought home more than 200 medals, Mrs. Obama said. (Above: The President greets athletes)

"You could not have been better ambassadors or better representatives of the United States," President Obama said. "We could not be prouder of you. You gave us a summer that we will never forget."

In remarks peppered with jokes, the President hailed Team USA's range and diversity, saying U.S. athletes "sent a message to the world about what makes America special." (Above: The President and Mrs. Obama hold a flag presented by the USOC, joined by Paralympic swimmer Brad Snyder)

Describing himself as the "fan in chief," the President said he doesn't have much time to watch television, but he did catch plenty of the London Olympics.

"I have mastered the DVR," President Obama said. "I was able to catch a little bit of everything."

Giving shoutouts to individual athletes, President Obama said that record medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps inspired him "to do a few more crunches."

"I was inspired to run a little bit faster watching Tyson Gay, and lift a little more after watching Holley Mangold," he said. "And wheelchair rugby--I’m just glad you guys aren’t taking me out," he added to laughter.

On a serious note, the President said "as Olympians and Paralympians, you find the strength to keep pushing – on the good days and the bad days."

Mrs. Obama led the US delegation to the 2012 Summer Games, using her time in London to not only support Team USA, but to bring her Let's Move! campaign to the international stage with a huge event for kids at the home of the US Ambassador, and co-events scheduled at home in the US. (Above: The President shakes hands with athletes)

The First Lady greeted the athletes ahead of President Obama taking the podium; he worked his way through the crowd offering personal congratulations. He'd vowed to shake hands with everyone, Mrs. Obama said, "even if it blows his schedule."

"Leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Ceremony was truly a dream come true for me," Mrs. Obama said. "I want you to know how inspired we are by all of you."

The First Lady thanked the US Olympic Committee "for getting more young people involved in sports in their communities as part of Let's Move."

"By the end of this year, we will have helped 1.7 million kids all across the country get healthy and active--and maybe we've inspired some future Olympian and Paralympians, as well," Mrs. Obama said.

*The transcript of the President and Mrs. Obama's remarks.

CLICK HERE for links to all Olympics posts.

*Top photo by Lawrence Jackson/White House; White House video; pool photos