Full Text Obama Presidency April 3, 2014: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at Team USA’s Visit – 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and the First Lady at Visit of the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

Source: WH, 4-3-14 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an event to welcome United States teams and delegations from the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi to the East Room of the White House, April 3, 2014.President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an event to welcome United States teams and delegations from the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi to the East Room of the White House, April 3, 2014. First Lady Michelle Obama, Jon Lujan, Paralympic Alpine skier and Marine veteran, and Julie Chu, Olympic ice hockey player, share the stage with the President. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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East Room

2:55 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Hey, everybody.  (Laughter.)  Welcome to the White House!  (Applause.)  I know you guys have been standing for a while, but you’re athletes, you can handle it.  (Laughter.)

We are so excited to have Team USA here with us today.  But before we begin, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the Fort Hood community that, as many of you know, has experienced yet another devastating tragedy.  And we just want to make sure that folks there know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who lost loved ones and friends, as well as those that were injured.

Because I know that many of the athletes here today are veterans themselves, and when something like this happens, it touches all of us.  I know that the President and I are just torn apart when things like this happen.  So today, as we celebrate the Olympic spirit, we remember that the same spirit — the spirit of hard work and team work — is shared by our military men and women, and we stand with them today and every day.

So, now, let’s get into the you-guys thing.  (Laughter.)  After watching you guys all over TV all these couple of months, I have to say that I am truly amazed.  I shared some of this with you guys in the receiving line.  You all are so talented.  You’re dedicated, and honestly, sometimes I don’t know how you do it.  I really don’t.

I’ve watched you guys do some of the craziest stuff.  That’s the thing with the Winter Olympics.  You guys do crazy things — careening down the face of mountains — craziness.  (Laughter.)  Throwing each other up in the air, it’s like — the mixed-pair skaters, the women, they’re teeny.  The big guys take them and throw them, just throw them across the ice.  I’m like, are you kidding me?  (Laughter.)  You threw her so hard and she lands on one foot on a blade.  And those of you jumping on those cookie sheet things and just sliding down a mountain — (laughter) — 80 miles an hour — I mean, who thinks of that?  (Laughter.)

So I am really in awe of everything you do, as so many people here in America and across the globe are.  Again and again, you all showed us that being an Olympian is about heart; it’s about guts; and it’s about giving it your all no matter what stands in your way.  And that’s a message that I try to convey to young people all the time — the idea that if you work hard and commit yourselves to a goal, and then pick yourself up when you fall, that there is nothing that you can’t achieve.

And as Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you also know that a big part of reaching your full potential is making sure that you’re putting the right fuel in your body.  You all know that better than anyone in this country, that what you eat absolutely makes a difference in how you perform.

And that’s another message that I try to spread to our young people, the importance of healthy eating and staying active.  So I want to thank all of you who taped a video for our Let’s Move campaign earlier today.  Thank you so much for making that happen.  And I want to give a special thank you to the USOC for their work to give over 2 million young people opportunities to get active in their communities.  We are so grateful for that, work, and we’re grateful for the example you all set for our young people.

In so many different ways, you all are inspiring folks across the country not just every four years but every single day.  And nowhere have I seen that more clearly than in the story of someone that I met here at the White House four years ago under far different circumstances.

Lt. Commander Dan Cnossen was seated next to me at a dinner with leaders of our military.  And I just got to see Dan, and we were remarking — because we were in the Dip Room, the same room we had dinner in together, but just a few months earlier, Dan had been in Afghanistan.  He was leading a platoon of Navy SEALs when he stepped on an IED.  Dan lost both of his legs in the explosion, but he never lost that fighting spirit.

I will always remember Dan, because just four months after that explosion, he finished a half marathon in a wheelchair — four months after the explosion.  On the one-year anniversary of his injury, he ran a mile on his prosthetics.  Over the next few years, Dan stayed on active duty while in the Navy, earning medals in swimming and running events at the Warrior Games, and completing the New York City Marathon.

And today, four and a half years after his injury, Dan is proud to wear another one of our nation’s uniforms, and that is of Team USA.  (Applause.)  There’s Dan.

THE PRESIDENT:  Dan is in the back there.

MRS. OBAMA:  Dan is in the back.

THE PRESIDENT:  Wave again, Dan.  There’s Dan.  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  And I also got to meet Dan’s sister, who stayed by his side every single minute of his recovery and she was an important part of that recovery.  And she’s a terrific woman, a nurse herself.  And I’m glad to hear she’s doing well.

In Sochi, Dan inspired us all again by competing in the 15K biathlon and the 1 kilometer sitting cross-country spring.  So Dan has come a long way in the four years that we met, and I know that his story and the stories of all our Olympians and Paralympians are nowhere near finished.

So keep it up.  This is only the beginning.  Many of you were here four years ago, and you told us you’d be back — and you’re back.  So I know you’re already getting ready for that next four years.  But in the meantime, we look forward to all that you’re going to do in this country and around the world to keep inspiring particularly young people to just live a little more like you all live and to show them that spirit of persistence.

So thank you all, again, for everything that you do.  And I can’t wait to hear about everything that you will do in the years to come.

And with that, I’m going to turn it over to this guy next to me — (laughter) — who happens to be my husband, but, more importantly, is the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s, first of all, be clear:  It is more important that I’m Michelle’s husband than that I’m President of the United States.  (Laughter and applause.)  I just want you to — I don’t want anybody to be confused.  Many of you young people out there aren’t married yet, so I just want you to know — giving you some tips in terms of how to prioritize.  (Laughter.)

Obviously, as Michelle mentioned, our thoughts right now in many ways are with the families at Fort Hood.  These are folks who make such extraordinary sacrifices for us each and every day for our freedom.  During the course of a decade of war, many of them have been on multiple tours of duty.  To see unspeakable, senseless violence happen in a place where they’re supposed to feel safe, home base, is tragic.  And obviously this is the second time that the Fort Hood community has been affected this way.

So we join that entire community in honoring those who lost their lives.  Every single one of them was an American patriot.  We stand with their families and their loved ones as they grieve. We are thinking about those who are wounded.  We’re there to support them.

And as we learn more about what happened and why, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to keep our troops safe and to keep our troops strong, not just on the battlefield but also when they come home.  They’ve done their duty, and they’re an inspiration.  They’ve made us proud.  They put on the uniform and then they take care of us, and we’ve got to make sure that when they come home we take care of them.

And that spirit of unity is what brings us here today — because we could not be prouder of Team USA.  (Applause.)  Team USA.  I hope all of you made yourself at home.  We double-checked to make sure that all the bathroom locks were working in case Johnny Quinn — (laughter) — tried to bust down one of these antique doors.  We didn’t want that to happen.  (Laughter.)

I want to recognize the members of Congress we have here with us, as well as Scott Blackmun and Larry Probst from the USOC, our fantastic delegations that represent the diversity and the values of our country so well.  But most of all, we’re here just to celebrate all of you — our Olympians and Paralympians who brought home a total of 46 medals for the Red, White and Blue.  (Applause.)

I understand that freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy also brought home a few stray dogs that he adopted.  (Laughter.)  That doesn’t count in the medal standings, but it tells you something about the freestyle skiers.  (Applause.)

Over the past couple of months, we saw some dominating performances by Team USA.  American women won more medals in the Olympics than women of any other nation.  (Applause.)  Way to go, women!  (Applause.)  Good job.  The men swept the podium in slopestyle skiing and Paralympic snowboarding.  (Applause.)  There you go.  Our women’s hockey team brought home the silver.  (Applause.)  Our men’s hockey team played a game for the ages with an epic shootout victory over the Russians.  (Applause.)

I would personally like to thank all of our snowboarders and freestyle skiers for making newscasters across America say things like “air to fakie,” and the “back-to-back double cork 1260.”  (Laughter.)  I don’t know what that means, really, but I just wanted to say it.  (Laughter.)  I’m pretty sure I’m the first President to ever say that.  (Applause.)  I’m pretty sure that’s true.  The back-to-back double cork 1260.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  It feels good.

THE PRESIDENT:  Does it feel good?  (Laughter.)

In Sochi, these athletes made plenty of history.  You had 16-year-old Declan Farmer scoring three goals to help our sled hockey team become the first nation ever to win back-to-back gold medals.  (Applause.)  Hey!  There he is.  There he is.  Hey!  (Applause.)

Our men’s bobsled team became the first Americans in 62 years to medal in both the two-man and the four-man competition. (Applause.)  Bobsledders — those are some tough guys, those bobsledders.  Don’t mess with them.  (Laughter.)

And then, Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympian ever to win gold in the slalom, at just 18 years old.  (Applause.)  Where’s Mikaela?  She’s back here somewhere.  Wave a little bit. (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  She’s a little — she’s down low.

THE PRESIDENT:  She’s down low.  There she is.  I knew she was here.  I saw her.  (Laughter.)  Afterwards, she said she wants to win five gold in 2018.  I do have to say, though, Mikaela, as somebody who was once told “you’re young but you should set your sights high,” I just got three words of advice:  Go for it.  (Applause.)  We are confident you are going to be bringing back some more gold.

Thanks to years of lobbying from Team USA, women’s ski jumping was added as an Olympic sport, and they did outstanding. (Applause.)  So women can fly just like men.  Jessica Jerome said, “We have arrived.  We are good at what we do.  And we are a lot prettier than the boy jumpers.”  (Laughter.)  Which I can attest to — I’ve seen them.  (Laughter.)  She wasn’t lying.

So from our ski jumpers who fought for equality to the athletes and coaches who have served our country in uniform, like Dan, who we’re so proud of, these athletes all send a message that resonates far beyond the Olympic Village.  And that’s always been the power of the Olympics — in going for the gold and pushing yourselves to be the best, you inspire the rest of us to try to, if not be the best, at least be a little better.

MRS. OBAMA:  Get off the couch.

THE PRESIDENT:  Just get off the couch.  (Laughter.)  That’s what Michelle said.

All of you remind us, just like the Olympic creed states, the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight.  And I want to take the example of somebody who couldn’t be here today, but her story I think is typical of so many of yours.  And this is Noelle Pikus-Pace.  Noelle was hoping to be here, but she’s been on the road a lot, wanted to get back to her husband and her kids — and they may be watching us now.

But almost a decade ago, Noelle was on top of the world after winning the women’s skeleton World Cup.  She was injured in a freak accident that cost her chances in 2006.  In 2010, she missed the podium by one-tenth of a second.  And after all of those Olympics, she retired to spend more time with her family.  But then two years, ago her husband convinced her to go back on that sled, because raising a family and racing down the track don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

So since then, Noelle, her husband, her two young children traveled from competition to competition, living out of suitcases, seeing the world together.  And in Sochi, it all paid off, and she took home the silver in the skeleton — jumping over the wall to celebrate with her family on the final run.  And here’s what Noelle said afterwards:  “Life is never going to go as planned.  You have to decide, when you’re bumped off course, if it’s going to hold you back or move you forward.”

That’s the spirit we celebrate today.  That’s something Dan understands.  That’s something that all of you at some stages in your life have understood or will understand.  Things aren’t always going to go perfect — and Michelle and I always remark, watching our Olympians, that you work hard for four years and then just a little something can happen.  And you’re just that close, and the courage and the stick-to-itness, and the confidence, and the joy in competition that keeps you moving — that’s going to help you throughout life.  It helps our country. It’s what America is all about.  It’s why we are so proud to have you all here today.

And four years from now, I won’t be here to greet you but some President is going to.  And I suspect that a lot of you may come back even four years after that.  You guys have done a great job, and what an extraordinary achievement it is for all of you to have represented the United States of America at our Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Congratulations.  Good job.  (Applause.)

END
3:15 P.M. EDT

Political Musings February 20, 2014: Obama owes Harper a pack of beer for Canada’s women’s hockey gold

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama owes Harper a pack of beer for Canada’s women’s hockey gold

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After waging a pack of beer for each of the US-Canada hockey match-ups at the Sochi Winter Olympic games United States President Barack Obama now owes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper a pack of beer, after Canada’…READ MORE

Political Headlines February 20, 2014: Obama owes Harper a pack of beer for Canada Women’s hockey gold

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama owes Harper a pack of beer

Harper and Obama shake hands
US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Toluca, Mexico during the Three Amigos Summit

After waging a pack of beer for each of the US-Canada hockey match-ups at the Sochi Winter Olympics US President Barack Obama now owes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper a pack of beer, after Canada’s Women’s hockey team won gold beating Team USA 3-2 in overtime on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.

Another pack of beer is up in the air when the US and Canada’s men’s hockey teams meet in the semi-final on Friday, Feb. 21. Obama and Harper made the bet during the Three Amigo’s Summit in Mexico this past week. Canada is the defending champions in both Women’s and Men’s hockey.

   I’m betting @barackobama one case of Canadian beer per hockey game this week. #teamusa is good, but #WeAreWinter#GoCanadaGo @WhiteHouse

— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) February 20, 2014

.@pmharper and I bet on the women’s and men’s US-Canada hockey games. Winner gets a case of beer for each game. #GoTeamUSA! -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 20, 2014

Political Musings February 17, 2014: Romney talks Bill and Hillary Clinton, 2016, Olympics on NBC’s Meet the Press

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Romney talks Bill and Hillary Clinton, 2016, Olympics on NBC’s Meet the Press

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As part of former 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent increase in public appearances, he sat down for a short interview that lasted 11 minutes and recorded from a studio in Salt Lake City, Utah on Sunday…READ MORE

Political Headlines May 6, 2013: President Barack Obama Golfs with Senators

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Golfing with Senators

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-6-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

After traveling for much of the weekend, President Obama is spending his Monday afternoon golfing with three senators, including two Republicans.

According to a White House official, the president is playing a round of golf with Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Mark Udall, D-Colo….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 29, 2013: President Barack Obama Meets 7-Year-Old Cancer Patient Turned Football Star Jack Hoffman at the White House Oval Office

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

7-Year-Old Cancer Patient Turned Football Star Meets Obama

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-29-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Jack Hoffman, the Nebraska boy who captured national attention after running a ceremonial 69-yard touchdown during a University of Nebraska spring football game earlier this month, visited the White House on Monday.

The 7-year-old, who is battling pediatric brain cancer, met with President Obama for about 15 minutes in the Oval Office….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 6, 2013: President Barack Obama Plays Golf for Second Weekend in a Row

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Plays Golf for Second Weekend in a Row

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-7-13

President Obama went out for a round of golf Saturday afternoon, his second weekend in a row to hit the links at a course at Joint Base Andrews.

The president golfed with White House aides Marvin Nicholson, Joe Paulsen, and Michael Brush….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 27, 2013: President Barack Obama Says His NCAA Bracket Is ‘Busted’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Says His NCAA Bracket Is ‘Busted’

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-28-13

Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images

When asked how his March Madness bracket is doing, President Obama on Wednesday responded with one word: “busted.”

Eleven of the president’s picks are among the Sweet 16 and his Final Four are still in the men’s NCAA tournament, but his teams in the Western division did not do as well….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech Honoring the Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings and MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

L.A. Kings and L.A. Galaxy Celebrate Championship Seasons at the White House

Source: WH, 3-26-13

President Obama tosses a soccer ball as he welcomes the LA Kings and the LA Galaxy to the White House, March 26, 2013President Barack Obama tosses a soccer ball as he welcomes the National Hockey League Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, left, and the Major League Soccer champion LA Galaxy to the White House to honor their 2012 championship seasons in a ceremony in the East Room, March 26, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Two of Southern California’s finest sports teams joined President Obama in the East Room to celebrate their championship seasons. The LA Galaxy was here for the second year in a row, as they repeated their dominance of the Major League Soccer in the 2012 season. The LA Kings, meanwhile, made their first visit to the White House after winning their first Stanley Cup.

And as President Obama pointed out, these teams share more than a hometown….READ MORE

Remarks by the President Honoring the Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings and MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy

Source: WH, 3-26-13 

East Room

2:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Welcome to the White House.  And welcome back to the back-to-back MLS champion, the L.A. Galaxy.  (Applause.)  I was telling these guys, they’re starting to get a little comfortable around here because they just keep on coming back.

But this time they brought some company — the Stanley Cup champion, L.A. Kings.  (Applause.)

Now, it is great to have both teams here not just because they share a hometown.  I’m a little resentful coming from Chicago that L.A. seems to be getting all these championships.  But they don’t just share a hometown, they also share a pretty good comeback story.

When it comes to the Galaxy, a team with Landon Donovan on it is rarely the underdog.  But when the Galaxy was here last year, their chances of repeating as champions didn’t look all that good.  The injury bug plagued the team.  It seemed like it might be a rebuilding year.  But right after that visit, they turned things around.  And you can call it a coincidence, but I just want to point out that right after they visited with me — (laughter) — the Galaxy built the best record in the league.

In the MLS Cup Final, the Galaxy trailed at halftime, and it stayed that way until Omar Gonzalez, who is with the national team today, scored the equalizer in the 60th minute.  A few minutes after that, Landon did what he does best and scored the go-ahead goal.  And pretty soon, they were up 3-1, and then midfielder Juninho was probably dancing the samba — (laughter) — the MLS Cup belonged to L.A. for the second straight year, and that was the fourth in Galaxy history.

Now, the Kings’ story is a little bit different.  These guys were not defending champions.  In fact, before last year, L.A. had never won the Stanley Cup.  And after switching head coaches midseason — a coach, I should add, who got good training from the Chicago Blackhawks — (laughter) — squeaking into the playoffs as a number eight seed, it looked like the streak of not winning was going to continue.  No eight seed had ever won a championship in any of our professional sports.

But something happened during the playoffs — timing is everything.  And as center Jarret Stoll says, “We all came together at the right time, and we all peaked at the right time.”  With playoff MVP Jonathan Quick playing lights out in goal, these guys just kept winning game after game after game.  And eventually, the rest of the league started to take notice.

Captain Dustin Brown put it best before the final game.  He said, “I don’t know what 45 years of energy sounds like.  But if we play our game, maybe we’ll find out.”  And that night at the Staples Center, they found out.  And America found out that Southern California actually has some pretty intense hockey fans.  (Applause.)

So I’m going to be a good sport — these guys pointed out that they beat my Blackhawks last night.  I will also say that, given this season how rare it is to beat the Blackhawks, I want to congratulate them for that as well.  (Laughter.)

We also found out that both these teams are full of some pretty stand-up players and coaches.  They’re out in the community year-round.  They’re changing lives, they’re making a difference.  As Coach Arena of the Galaxy says, “The soccer is very much secondary.  If we can have an impact on the lives of young kids, we want to be a part of that.”

And that’s something we all appreciate, especially those of us who are parents.  And we are thrilled that you guys are sticking around to host a Let’s Move question-and-answer session with kids from all across the country.

So I want to give a hearty congratulations to both the Kings and the Galaxy one more time for bringing two championships to L.A. and for doing so much for your fans back in California.

And we also know that there are a couple of Galaxy players who couldn’t be here because of World Cup qualifying, so I want to wish Team USA the very best of luck as they take on Mexico tonight.  I hope both these teams have a great rest of the season.

So everybody give them a big round of applause.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)

All right, are we going to do the jerseys at the podium?  So, Landon, what do we got here?

MR. DONOVAN:  We have a ball for you, and then we’ve got a — (laughter) — and then we’ve got a jersey for you.

THE PRESIDENT:  I hope you guys caught that.  (Laughter.)  That doesn’t happen very often.

MR. DONOVAN:  And a jersey.

THE PRESIDENT:  That is a nice-looking jersey.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

So am I going to stand over here?  And what do we got here?

MR. BROWN:  Just a jersey here.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a good-looking jersey.  Forty-four — it’s a lucky number.  All right, thank you.

END
2:06 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency August 4, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Celebrates the Summer Olympics and Paralympics

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama’s Weekly Address: Olympians ‘Unconquerable’ American Spirit

Source: ABC News Radio, 8-4-12

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with members of the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team from Air Force One on Aug. 1. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama sidestepped politics in his weekly address Saturday, instead focusing on “something that’s brought us all together this week,” the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

“These games remind us that for all our differences, we’re Americans first,” the president said. “And we could not be prouder of the men and women representing our country in London, in both the Olympics and in the Paralympics.”…READ MORE

Weekly Address

President Obama congratulates all of the American athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympics this summer

President Obama tapes the weekly address

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 8/3/12

Weekly Address: Celebrating the Summer Olympics and Paralympics

Source: WH, 8-4-12
President Obama congratulates all of the American athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympics this summer. These men and women have inspired us all with their hard work, determination, and their indomitable spirit as they present the best of America to the rest of the world. The President tells our Olympic and Paralympic competitors that the American people could not be prouder of them, and thanks them for reminding us that we are one people, and by working together we can achieve great things.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

More coverage of the 2012 Summer Games:

Weekly Address: Celebrating the Summer Olympics and Paralympics

Hi, everybody.  Today, I want to take a break from the back-and-forth of campaign season, and talk about something that’s brought us all together this week – the Summer Olympics.

These games remind us that for all our differences, we’re Americans first.  And we could not be prouder of the men and women representing our country in London, in both the Olympics and in the Paralympics.

Last weekend, Michelle led the American delegation to London and reaffirmed the special relationship we share with our strongest ally, Great Britain.  She met with the Queen, and with Prime Minister Cameron’s wife, Samantha.  She spent some time thanking our brave service members and military families.  And, of course, she took in as many events as she could to cheer on our athletes.

I’ve got to admit I was a little jealous she got to go.  But like many of you, I caught as many events as I could, jumping off the couch for a close race, or a perfect vault.  I watched the wonderful young women of our gymnastics team recapture the team gold for America, and I was filled with pride watching Gabby Douglas win the all-around gold with incredible poise and grace.  I watched our swimmers win a haul of medals, and Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.  I saw our women’s soccer team power through the competition.

And I’m just as proud of all our athletes in sports that don’t always get as much attention.  The U.S. women’s eight continued its rowing dominance with another gold medal.  Kayla Harrison won America’s first-ever gold medal in Judo, and Marti Malloy won a bronze.  Kim Rhode became the first American to win individual medals in five straight Olympics with her gold in skeet shooting; and her teammate, Army Sergeant Vincent Hancock, won his second skeet gold.

I also thought of the truly difficult journeys that many of our athletes have made.  Some have faced personal loss, or beaten cancer.  Some have worked long shifts at multiple jobs to feed their Olympic dream.  And some have done the impossible.  Less than four years ago, Bryshon Nellum was shot three times in his legs.  But this week, he’ll run the 400 meters.  And as a boy, Lopez Lomong fled war and persecution and life as a refugee – one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan.  Today’s he’s an American – and representing his country at the Olympics for the second time.

So it’s no surprise America is vying for the top of the medal count.  But it’s not the medal count alone that inspires us – most of our athletes won’t claim a medal at all.  It’s the character of the men and women who compete for those medals.  It’s their hard work and sacrifice – the countless hours in the gym, in the pool, on the track.  It’s their dogged perseverance and unyielding determination, through disappointment and triumph alike.

It’s that unconquerable spirit – that American spirit – that says even though we may have very different stories to tell; even though we may not look alike or talk alike or be dealt the same hand in life – if we work hard, we can achieve our dreams.  We can make it if we try.  We are one people, with common values and ideals; we celebrate individual excellence, but recognize that only together can we accomplish great and important things we cannot accomplish alone.

That’s why we watch.  That’s why we cheer.  That’s why we come together, for two weeks in summer, and swell with pride at the incredible things our fellow citizens can do.

So to all our Olympic and Paralympic athletes – whether you’ve already competed or have yet to compete – your country could not be prouder of you.  Thank you for presenting the best of America to the rest of the world.  And, thank you for becoming new role models to our children – mine included – and inspiring them to believe that if they work hard and do their best, they can achieve great things, too.

Go get ‘em this week, Team USA.  We can’t wait to welcome you home.

God bless you, and God bless America.

Full Text Obama Presidency July 27, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at a Breakfast to Honor the US Olympic Team at the University of East London, London, England

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the First Lady at a Breakfast to Honor the U.S. Olympic Team

Source: WH, 7-27-12

U.S. Olympic Training Facility
University of East London
London, England

9:00 A.M. BST

MRS. OBAMA:  Yay to you!  Wow!  I’m going to be saying that a lot over the next few days — wow!  Wow!  Wow!  I can’t believe I’m here with you all.  I am beyond proud.  Thank you so much.  It is a pleasure and a joy and an honor for me to be here with all of you.

I want to start by thanking Dominique for that very kind introduction.  But she didn’t mention that I might have beat her a little bit in jumping rope, but then she popped off some flips and spun up in the air and — (laughter) — landed, and she was like — looked at me like, bet you can’t do that.  (Laughter.)  She didn’t mention that part.   She was right — I can’t do that.

I want to thank Dominique and all of the other outstanding members of the delegation for coming to the Olympics, for joining me, for being here, for their absolute greatness.  These are remarkable individuals beyond sports.  They have all, and are all doing some amazing things for their communities all over the country.  So it is just a joy for me to be here with them.

I also want to acknowledge our U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom — Ambassador Susman — who has done a lot to make sure that this visit goes well.  He’s opened up his home for what will be a very fun afternoon in a couple of hours — is going to have a thousand kids in his backyard.  So I thank him for that.

I also want to thank Scott Blackmun for his outstanding leadership and for taking the time to be here today.  I’ve had a chance to meet him over the last year or so, and he’s just been a terrific supporter.

I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is for me to be leading the delegation for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games.  Some of my fondest memories growing up — and even as an adult, for that matter — involved watching the Olympics on TV.  I know each of you probably were in that position.  I remember cheering on Mary Lou and Nadia and Carl Lewis and so many others.  I was just in awe of those athletes.

And my family — I remember, we would sit together for hours watching these men and women perform feats of endurance, speed and grace that would have us cheering at the top of our lungs.  My brother and I, we would dream about how maybe one day, if we worked hard enough, we might be able to achieve something just as great for ourselves.

The Olympics was particularly powerful for my family for another reason.  As some of you may know, my father contracted MS in the prime of his life.  In a matter of several years, he went from a man who was once a thriving competitor — he was a boxer, a swimmer throughout high school — and then he was stripped of all of his hopes, so he thought, as an athlete.  My father wasn’t able to walk without the assistance of crutches, but he retained his love of sports, truly.  And the Olympics was a special time for him to watch amazing athletes of all abilities compete on the world stage.

So these games especially affected our little house on the South Side of Chicago.  Every few years these games bring pride, excitement and wonder to millions of people around the world.  And that must mean so much to all of you, being part of giving so many people that much hope.

And you never know who you’re inspiring.  You just never know.  From a family like ours on the South Side of Chicago to young athletes who are going to pick up a soccer ball or start running after watching something that you all do.  And I know for many of you, that’s how you got here, watching someone else.  So you never know who you’re going to inspire, because all of you are certainly inspiring me every day.

And this summer, all these years later, I still have those same feelings of pride, excitement and wonder.  So being here is other-worldly for me.  I am still so inspired by all of you.  And I’m still in awe of everything you have achieved.  As someone who, you know, thinks she works out — (laughter) — I know how hard and how much time you all put into being who you are.  And it is no small feat at all.

And I just wanted to come here and to tell you that very thing — that we are all proud of you all.  We really are.  You’ve got a country back home who is rooting for you every single second.  So you’ve already won.  And I’m proud to have the chance to cheer you guys on, in person, for the very first time in my life — in person at the Olympics, in London!  And then I’m going to be cheering back home, too, after they send me away — (laughter) — because I can only stay for three days.

And I want you all to know that this summer, people across America are going to be supporting Team USA — and not just by cheering you on from our living rooms, but also by striving to live up to the example that all of you set.

Thanks to the commitment from the U.S. Olympic Committee and 10 of its governing bodies, this year 1.7 million children are going to be participating in Olympic and Paralympic sports in their communities.  Many of these kids for the first time in their lives will be exposed to sports of any kind.  And tomorrow, people of all ages will be participating in the first-ever National Let’s Move Olympic Fun Day.  They’re going to be doing all kinds of athletic activities in cities and towns across the country.

So as you all compete here, think of your fellow competitors back home, all those young kids who are going to be thinking of the visions they see of you as they go spike a ball or put their toe in that first water.  They’re going to look at you and then they’re going to try something — right?  Then they’re going to get a little afraid, they’re going to come back, they’re going to watch you, and then they’re going to try a little bit more.  Right?  That’s what we’re hoping to see.

Our goal is to get all kids in our country and across the world in a better state of health.  And that starts with getting up and moving — right?  And this is a particularly special moment for them, with you all here competing, for them to have that light bulb go off in their heads.  Watching you all every step of the way may get some kid off of the couch, may encourage a mom to turn off the TV and go out and throw a ball.

So whatever happens here, think of all that you’re going to be doing for millions of kids, right this second, just by the fact that you worked so hard and got here yourselves.

So we are proud of you all.  And try to have some fun, you know.  You guys look pretty focused, and you should be, but I know I talked to Summer, and Summer is going to be going to the first opening ceremonies and she’s been at the Olympics nine times — right?  So this is going to be her first opening ceremonies.  So you all take advantage of everything.  Stop, look around you.  I know in my position, sometimes I don’t get a chance to breathe or take it in.  This only happens every few years, so try and have fun.  Try to breathe a little bit.  But also win — right?  (Laughter.)  In the end, winning is good.

You all, thank you so much.  God bless.  (Applause.)

END
9:09 A.M. BST

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