President Obama welcomed the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House today, telling them they are “a portrait of what this country is all about.”
“You guys all find the strength to keep pushing on good days and bad days, because you believe that no matter where we come from, or no matter what hand we’ve been dealt in life, with enough effort, there is no limit to how far we can go,” the president told the large crowd of athletes gathered on the White House South Lawn.
“That’s what sets all of you apart. That’s what sets America apart. We celebrate individual effort, but we also know that, together, we can do incredible things that we couldn’t accomplish on our own,” he said.
The president was joined by Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama, who led the U.S. delegation to the Summer Games in London, in saluting the nation’s finest athletes.
“I had so much fun with everyone over in London that when I got home, I told Barack that we had to invite everybody over to the house,” Michelle Obama said.
The president admitted he was “pretty jealous” that his wife got to go to the games, “but like millions of Americans, I had almost as much fun just following you guys from here.”
“I usually work pretty late, but I’ve mastered the DVR,” he quipped. “It was a great way to end the day, watching you guys do things that I did not think were humanly possible.”
After his wife returned to Washington, the president, an avid sports fan and exercise enthusiast, said he and the first lady would talk about the games while they worked out in the morning.
“We’d talk about, did you see that thing?” he recounted. “That was unbelievable. … And then I’d jog on the treadmill,” he said, making fun of his own athletic prowess.
The president said that he was not supposed to shake everyone’s hands because of his tight schedule but vowed to “break the rule” and do it anyway, which he did.