This is historical material “frozen in time”. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.

Search form

"We Need All of Our Children to be Exposed to the Olympic Ideals"

(First Lady Michelle Obama greets gymnast Nadia Comaneci, her husband gymnast Bart Connor, left, and other former Olympians before the Chicago 2016 Dinner in Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday, September 30, 2009.  From left in the background, athletes Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Bob Berland, David Robinson, and Paralympic athlete Linda Mastandrea. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
First Lady Michelle Obama brought American pride to the Danish capital today, her visit only adding to the Olympic-sized fervor reverberating throughout Copenhagen—also in attendance was Chicago’s other first lady, talk show host Oprah Winfrey. The First Lady, eager for the torch to shine brightly stateside, shared some favorite childhood Olympic moments and reflected on how the importance of Olympic ideals in every child’s life:
We need all of our children to be exposed to the Olympic ideals that athletes from around the world represent, particularly this time in our nation’s history, where athletics is becoming more of a fleeting opportunity. Funds dry up so it becomes harder for kids to engage in sports, to learn how to swim, to even ride a bike. When we’re seeing rates of childhood obesity increase, it is so important for us to raise up the platform of fitness and competition and fair play; to teach kids to cheer on the victors and empathize with those in defeat, but most importantly, to recognize that all the hard work that is required to do something special.
I remember watching the Olympics when I was little. I remember it to the T, some of those memories. And Nadia Comaneci is here, who – (applause) – and so many incredible Olympic athletes. But I remember, I told this story, when you scored that perfect 10, you bounced off the balance beam, off the parallel bars. I thought I could do that. (Laughter.) I didn’t know then that I would be 5'11". (Laughter.)
But it was – it was an activity in our household when it was time for the Olympic Games, all of us gathered around the TV cheering on and being inspired by people who were doing things that were beyond belief. And I just think, wouldn’t it be great if that kind of spirit was happening right down the street in our community? Just think of that. Kids and communities across the city, in Austin, kids who grew up in Cabrini, kids who live so far from the city. Now just imagine if all of that was happening right in their own backyard. That’s what I think about. (Applause.)
It does something to a kid when they can feel that energy and power up close and personal. And for some kids in our communities and our city, around the nation, around the world, they can never dream of being that close to such power and opportunity.
(First Lady Michelle Obama  during a break in her one-on-one meetings with International Olympic Committee members in Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009  Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)