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Michelle Obama Leads U.S. Delegation to London Olympics

Michelle Obama Leads U.S. Delegation to London Olympics

27 July 2012
Michelle Obama and kids playing tug-of-war on lawn (AP Images)

First lady Michelle Obama plays with American and British children during a Let’s Move event in London.

Michelle Obama and basketball players posing for photo (U.S. Embassy London)

Michelle Obama with Team USA’s basketball players

Leading the U.S. delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games, first lady Michelle Obama visited Team USA’s training facility and hosted a Let’s Move event at the American ambassador’s residence in London July 27.

She was scheduled to attend the Olympics Opening Ceremony and will remain in the United Kingdom for three days.

Accompanying the first lady were U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Louis Susman, former Olympic soccer player Brandi Chastain, Paralympic javelin and discus thrower Gabriel Diaz de Leon, and former Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders. Grant Hill and Dominique Dawes, both former Olympians and members of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, also joined the delegation.

Obama kicked off her visit with a breakfast at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility at the University of East London, where she delivered remarks and met Team USA members. Recalling childhood memories of watching the Olympics on television, she described the Olympians as role models for American children everywhere, adding that they are “certainly inspiring me every day.”

“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,” Obama said. “They're going to look at you and then they're going to try something, right?”

In addition to inspiring children to excel in sports, Olympians have a vital role in influencing their lifestyles, the first lady said. Alluding to the Let’s Move–U.S. Olympic Committee initiative to get 1.7 million American kids active in Olympic and Paralympic sports in 2012, Obama said the Olympics will encourage kids to get off the couch and onto the playing field.

“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?” she said. “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.”

After meeting all the athletes competing for Team USA, Obama was treated to a demonstration of sporting precision by American fencers.

The first lady hosted a Let’s Move event for 1,000 American military children from U.K. bases as well as American and British students at Ambassador Susman’s Winfield House residence. There, the children met famous athletes, including David Beckham, Shawn Johnson, Carl Lewis, Bart Conner, Nadia Comaneci, Teresa Edwards, Emily Hughes, Sarah Hughes, Dikembe Mutombo and Dara Torres.

Drawing on anecdotes about speed skater Apolo Ohno and gymnast Shawn Johnson, Obama emphasized the importance of persistence and self-confidence.

“The stories of these athletes reminds us that being an Olympian isn’t just about winning a gold or setting a record. It’s about pushing yourself, and believing in yourself, and refusing to give up,” she said. “You've got to tell yourself that time and time again, right?”

But coupled with a belief in one’s ability to overcome obstacles should be a dedication to a healthy lifestyle, the first lady added.

“It’s also about being active, and taking care of your bodies, you guys,” she said. “You all have to start making sure that you get the exercise that you need and you eat the right foods.”

After the remarks, the children played a variety of sports at various sports stations on the residence’s lawn, which were provided by Nickelodeon, the NBA, USA Basketball and the U.S. Tennis Association, among several others.

On July 28, the first lady will oversee the first-ever National Let’s Move Olympic Fun Day, which will be celebrated with various athletic activities in towns and cities across the United States.