the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady at a Let's Move! London Event

U.S. Ambassador's Residence
London, England

11:30 A.M. BST

MRS. OBAMA:  Are you all having fun?  (Applause.)  It looks like so much fun!  I am so excited to be here --


MRS. OBAMA:  You are welcome.  (Laughter.)  Thank you.  I am thrilled to be here in London for the 2012 Olympic Games.  Yay!  (Applause.)  And I am proud to be leading the U.S. delegation to the Opening Ceremony that's happening tonight.  That's pretty cool.  (Applause.)  And I am delighted to be here with so many outstanding young people from all across the UK and the USA.  Good stuff!  (Applause.) 

I want to start by thanking Summer for that very kind introduction.  It's been so much fun hanging out with her and the rest of the delegation, so I want to thank them all -- Brandi Chastain, Dominique Dawes, Gabriel Diaz de Leon, and Grant Hill.  (Applause.)  And of course, I want to thank our host -- the reason why we're here, the reason why this happened, because the Ambassador to the UK, Ambassador Susman, let us use his backyard.  Isn't that pretty cool?  (Applause.)  So we have to thank Ambassador Susman and his wife, Marjorie.

And I also want to recognize a very special group of folks who are here -- the military families who are joining us -- (applause) -- from U.S. bases that are stationed here in the UK.  Let me just say, we are so grateful for your service, because you all sacrifice so much.  You have kids, you're moms, you're dads, you sacrifice so much for this country.  And we are so incredibly proud of you.  And any time I get the chance to show you guys love, I do it.  Let's give them a big round of applause, these families.  (Applause.)

And finally, I want to recognize all of the extraordinary, amazing athletes who are on stage with me today -- men and women who have won dozens of medals and broken countless records, and they have made us all so proud. 

But let’s not forget that these folks, they weren’t born Olympians.  You're not born an Olympian -- right?  No, no, you're not born -- in fact, many of them started out just like many of you -- just playing, playing on a team at school, or practicing at their local gym or rink or pool.  But what they did do is they stuck with it.  Right?  Even when things got hard, they stuck with it.  They spent hours every day, doing their drills, perfecting their skills, practicing their moves -- right, Grant?  Practicing those moves.  (Laughter.)

And when they got tired or frustrated, and when they failed or fell short, they didn’t give up.  You hear that?  They didn’t give up.  That's what I tell my girls -- you can't give up.  Right when it starts getting hard, that's when you keep pushing a little bit more, right?

For example, my good friend, Apolo Ohno first tried out for the Olympics back in 1998, and he came in last.  He didn’t even make the team.  (Laughter.)  He was last.  They were like, no, thank you, Apolo, you're not good enough.  But he didn’t give up.  He just trained a little harder, and he went on to win more gold medals than any other American Winter Olympic athlete in history.  (Applause.)

And then there’s Shawn Johnson.  (Applause.)  When she was a young gymnast, the pressure of being a famous athlete weighed on her, and a couple of times, she thought about quitting gymnastics for good.  No!  (Laughter.)  But what did she do?  She stuck with it.  And in the 2008 Olympics, she won four medals, including the gold.  (Applause.)

And then there’s the story of Gabe Diaz de Leon, my good friend.  Years ago, Gabe was serving in the Army when he was seriously wounded and became paralyzed.  But Gabe had been an athlete in high school before, and he was determined to keep competing.  So he set a goal for himself -- he decided that he was going to make the Paralympic team in track and field.  And he didn’t have a coach.  But he read a lot of books, and he watched other athletes compete.  And he didn’t just make the team -- listen to this -- he won two medals -- (applause) -- and many more in the years to come. 

That's my guy, Gabe.  And today, he’s focused on inspiring and coaching other wounded warriors.  So he's taken it to the next level.  You know that, young people -- take it to the next level always.  (Applause.)

So the stories of these athletes reminds us that being an Olympian isn’t just about winning a gold or setting a record.  It’s about pushing yourself, and believing in yourself, and refusing to give up.  You've got to tell yourself that time and time again -- right?  No matter what the obstacles you face, you keep pushing.  And it’s also about being active, and taking care of your bodies, you guys.  This is one of the reasons why we're here.  And you all have to start making sure that you get the exercise that you need and you eat the right foods.  It is so important. 

But it’s also about having some fun -- right?  This isn't that serious -- it's about fun!  Today has been all about fun -- right?  (Applause.)

And in the end, that’s what Let's Move is all about.  It’s about helping kids like you live happier, healthier lives.  And that’s really why we brought you all here today -- because we want you to see that there all kinds of ways -- right? -- all kinds of ways that you can stay active and have fun doing it.  You don't have to be an Olympian.  You don't have to join a team.  But there are so many ways that you can have fun and keep yourselves moving.

So I want, by a show of hands -- or maybe screams -- because you all scream -- how many kids, for you, is this your first Olympics that you will see or hear about?  Let me hear some screams -- who's your first?  (Screaming.)  All right, so we've got a lot of firsts.   

So we also want you all to be a part of the Olympic Games, too -- especially living here, the Olympics seem kind of far away.  If you don't have tickets -- what's going on -- right?  I hear -- a lot of heads shaking.  So this is a way for us to help you be part of the Olympics, and we want you to experience these Olympic sports as well.  So that's why we pulled all this together.  Because who knows -- one of you out there may be the next Apolo, or Shawn, or Gabe.  Right?  You may be out there right now.  (Applause.)

But whether or not you grow up to become an Olympian or Paralympian, the fact is that you all have so much promise.  And I want you all to know that -- think in your head, I am important.  I have promise.  There are things that I can do.  Because all of us up here, all those people back there, we believe in each and every one of you.  You understand that?  You own that? 


MRS. OBAMA:  We love you.  But we want you to take care of yourselves, help your families, turn off the TV, eat some vegetables -- (laughter.)  Yes, that's part of it.  Because we want you guys to grow up and have the future you deserve.  Okay?  Is that a promise? 


MRS. OBAMA:  All right, so I'm going to stop talking so you guys can go back to having fun.  And I'm going to come around to each of the stations and try some stuff, too.  (Applause.)  So, you guys, let's move!  Let's move!  (Applause.)

11:39 A.M. BST