LONDON, July 27 U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama
told American Olympians on Friday that it was an "otherworldly"
experience for her to be in London to witness them compete on
the world stage.
"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," she said while
addressing the U.S. team ahead of the Opening Ceremony later in
"Being here is otherworldly for me, you know. I am still so
inspired by all of you. I am still in awe of everything you have
She added with a smile: "Try to have fun. Try to breathe a
little bit. But also win, right? In the end winning is good."
As part of her visit as the lead of the U.S. Olympic
delegation, she is expected to attend a reception hosted by
Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace and meet Samantha Cameron,
the wife of British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The highlight of her visit will be the Opening Ceremony - a
three-hour extravaganza at the Olympic stadium built in a
previously run-down area of east London.
The ceremony, due to be watched by a global audience of more
than one billion people, begins at 2000 GMT.
Speaking at the University of East London, where American
athletes have a training facility, Obama said watching the Games
had inspired her father, who suffered from multiple sclerosis,
to retain his athletic spirit.
"In a matter of several years he went from a man who was
once a thriving competitor - he was a boxer and swimmer
throughout high school - and then he was stripped of all of his
hopes," she said.
"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."
She and U.S. President Barack Obama have taken an active
interest in the Olympic movement, travelling to Copenhagen in
2009 to pitch Chicago's failed bid to land the 2016 Summer
Games, which will be hosted by Rio de Janeiro.
She has also spearheaded efforts to get children physically
fit in a country where obesity is on the rise.
"You never know who you are 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," she said.
"I know for many of you that's how you got here watching
someone else ... we are proud of you all. And try to have some
(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Mark Meadows;
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