Obama praises US London 2012 teams for "a summer we will never forget"
Friday, 14 September 2012
September 14 - United States Olympic and Paralympic athletes were today hailed by President Barack Obama during a special ceremony at the White House.
"We could not be prouder of you," he told more than 400 athletes gathered on the South Lawn.
"You gave us a summer that we will never forget."
Obama did not attend London 2012 and was represented by his wife, Michelle, who led the official delegation, and US vice-president Joe Biden.
Obama nevertheless described himself as the "fan in chief" and said that he managed to see some of the Games.
"I have mastered the DVR," he said.
"I was able to catch a little bit of everything."
The US regained their position at the top of the Olympics medals table in London having finished behind China in Beijing four years ago.
They finished with a total of 104 medals, including 49 gold, their best ever performance in a Games outside of America.
The Paralympic team, meanwhile, finished sixth with a total of 97 medals, 31 of which were gold.
"You could not have been better ambassadors or better representatives of the United States," Obama said
The US flag-bearers at the Games - Olympic fencer Mariel Zagunis and Paralympic swimmer Brad Snyder, a Navy veteran - presented the Obamas with flags carried during the events' Ceremonies.
"All of us are tremendously proud to represent the United States, so visiting the White House today, as a team, means a great deal to us and marks a perfect ending to a great summer for Team USA," said Zagunis, who appeared in her third Olympics at London.
"To be selected by my team to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony was a huge honour, but it's the camaraderie and shared experience of being a member of Team USA that we cherish most of all, and that is what we are celebrating today."
Synder, a Navy lieutenant, claimed the S11 100 and 400 metres titles, the second on the first anniversary of losing his sight while serving in Afghanistan.
"It is an honour to be here at the White House with my teammates to celebrate the culmination of an unforgettable experience at the London Paralympic Games," he said.
"I think I can speak for all of us when I say we couldn't be more proud to be members of Team USA or more thankful to all who have supported us as we worked to achieve our goals of competing at the highest levels of sport."
Scott Blackmun, the chief executive of the United States Olympic Committee, praised the success of the team at London 2012.
"Of equal importance is recognising the manner in which America's finest athletes conducted themselves off the field of play, truly representing the very best of the United States," he said.
"That is something that should make all fans and supporters of Team USA extremely proud."
August 2012: President and First Lady invite US Olympic and Paralympic teams to White House reception
March 2012: Michelle Obama to lead US delegation at London 2012 Opening Ceremony