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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady at Mini-Olympic Games Event

American University
Washington, D.C.

4:57 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: Okay, you guys can have a seat. You've done well. You've done well. Have you guys had fun today?


MRS. OBAMA: Was this not -- very cool. This was very cool, wasn't it?


MRS. OBAMA: I mean, let's say thank you to everyone who helped organize this thing. Let's give them all a round of applause. (Applause.) It looks like it was so much fun.

But I want to start, first of all, by thanking Lisa for that very kind introduction. She's one of my heroes, I love her to death. Don't we love Lisa?


MRS. OBAMA: She is so awesome. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I want her autograph.

MRS. OBAMA: We're going to get autographs. We'll get that done. We'll get that done. But we have to say thank you to a few more people. We have a couple of guests.

Mrs. Marjorie Susman, and Lady Susan Westmacott are here. They are the ambassadors for our great countries, and they're visiting us. (Applause.) They're here somewhere. There they are. There they are.

And of course, we have to thank all of our wonderful Olympic and Paralympic athletes who have joined us today who helped you guys out. Did you learn something from them?


MRS. OBAMA: All right, focus, because these people have put in some time and made some sacrifices, and they're great role models to all of you, right?

And I want to join in in also welcoming our very special guest, Mrs. Samantha Cameron -- we already said hello today, but Mrs. Cameron is here. She came here with her husband from the United Kingdom. Her husband is Prime Minister David Cameron. So he's the Prime Minister there, and they're here on an official visit.

And what we hope to do is just remember this special relationship our two countries have. They hosted us a little while ago. We had a wonderful time when the President and I got to visit London last year as guests of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, as well as the Camerons. So we are very pleased that they're both back here in Washington with us today. So this is a really special day.

So we are very excited to have her here with us today, and I'm particularly excited that the Camerons are visiting our country this week because, as it turns out, I will be visiting their country this summer. Because today, I'm pleased to announce that I will have the honor of leading the presidential delegation to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer. (Applause.) And let me tell you, I am thrilled to do it. I wasn't sure whether they were going to let me do it, but I get to do it and I'm very excited. And I know that all of you are looking forward to the Games this summer, aren't you?


MRS. OBAMA: I mean, this is why we're here today. Because the true spirit of the Games isn't confined to just the two weeks of competition in the summer. It's not just about who wins the Gold, right? You've heard that before. It's not just about who wins the medals, right?


MRS. OBAMA: Or which country wins the most medals. That’s not what the Olympics are about. Instead, the Olympic Games are about commitment, right? It's about determination, and, most importantly, it's about teamwork -- teamwork, right?

The Games are about finding our inner strength. Do you know what I mean by inner strength? It's like, what's deep down inside that you want to do for yourself, right? And all of these athletes have done it by pushing ourselves to be the very best that we can at something that we feel deeply about, right? And that’s sports in this case, but that can be anything. But it's about digging down deep and finding the thing that makes you want to do more.

And just to give an example of some of the athletes we have here today, do you know that to prepare for the Olympic Games, Dominique Dawes -- Dominique, make sure they know who you are. Dominique, she was in the gym almost 40 hours a week practicing. I mean, can you imagine -- 40 hours a week? And that’s in addition to going to school, right? Getting her homework done, and anything else she had to do. She was in the gym. That’s how much dedication it takes.

And Lisa Leslie was out on the basketball court practicing every night, because she knew it wasn't just good enough to be tall, right? We like being tall, but that’s not enough. You've got to have some skills to go with that height, and you've got to practice, right?

And then there's Kortney Clemons, this guy right here. In 2005 -- listen to this, guys -- Kortney was serving our country as a combat medic in Iraq. He was fighting in the war when a bomb exploded nearby him, right? A bomb went off. And he was 24 years old at the time, and he had a very young daughter; he was the father of a little girl. But then he lost his leg. All of a sudden, his leg is gone.

Now, he didn’t let that stop him from reaching new goals, see? And that’s the beauty, right? He lost his leg and he thought, what more can I do with one leg? So he set a new goal for himself. So he's always been a pretty good athlete -- you can tell. He's got that athlete look in his eye. And so during his rehabilitation, he learned about the Paralympics, and he decided he wanted to participate.

At first, he tried weightlifting, because he wanted to get buff -- I'm sure he was trying to impress somebody, right? (Laughter.) But soon, he found out that he really enjoyed running. He really loved the wind in his face when he was moving fast. How many people feel that when they're moving fast? Yes, yes, there's nothing like moving fast. Well, that’s how he felt. So he kept working.

And less than two years after the explosion -- two years afterwards -- he became a national champion sprinter. Can you -- dang, yes. You want to say that again?


MRS. OBAMA: He is the first Iraq veteran to qualify for the national Paralympic team. And he is an inspiration to people around the world. Do you understand that? Around the world. Let's give Kortney a round of applause. (Applause.)

I could go on, because everyone behind me has a similarly powerful story, okay? Everyone does. But these are the stories of triumph, of perseverance and sheer willpower that lie behind every Olympian and every Paralympian. And that’s why these Games are important, you guys.

So when you watch these Games -- and I hope you all do, right? There are a lot of lessons to learn -- not just who wins and loses. The stories behind these athletes should give us all reason to get up and move, right? And that’s what's so beautiful about these Games.

They don’t just allow us to marvel at the skills and the achievements of the world's greatest athletes. They help us all dream bigger, right? I mean, you can just imagine what you can do, right kids? These Games are about inspiring you guys to move.

And that’s what I want you all to do with Let's Move. You guys know Let's Move is about me ensuring that young people like you guys get up and get moving. And we want to use these Games as a way to jumpstart people into moving, right? And as Lisa said, moving isn't just being a part of a sport. Moving can be dancing in the living room, it can be riding your bike, it can be walking your dog.

But if all these athletes can do what they do, then surely you guys can get moving and help the people in your lives get moving, right? So that’s going to be one of our very important goals with the Olympic Games, is using this as a way for us to be inspired to be as healthy as we can all of the time. Do you think we can do that?


MRS. OBAMA: So I'm going to need your help. You guys are going to get some medals, but I need you to be our ambassadors. Do you know what an ambassador is? I need you to send the word out to people in your lives and in your community about how important it is to stay active and healthy. Will you guys help?


MRS. OBAMA: All right. Well, if I have that promise, then I think we can get on with the next part of the ceremony, because I think we've got some medals to hand out, right?


MRS. OBAMA: Yes! (Applause.) Medals to hand out.

So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Kortney, who's going to help with the medal ceremony. Congratulations to you guys. We are so proud of you. Keep up the good work, okay? Give yourselves a round of applause.

5:06 P.M. EDT