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

London, England–(ENEWSPF)–July 27, 2012 – 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.)

9:09 A.M. BST