An official website of the United States government

Passing the Torch of a Healthy Lifestyle to the Next Generation
July 30, 2012

July 27, 2012

Two women applauding at an Olympic event
The First Lady, right, and retired three-time Olympian in artistic gymnastics Dominique Dawes watch a Olympic tennis match on July 28.

From the days of her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, first lady Michelle Obama has drawn inspiration from televised images of the Olympic Games. But for the next few days, she has the chance to see the greatest athletes in the world up close and personal as the leader of the U.S. delegation for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Kicking off her three-day trip in the U.K. capital with a breakfast July 27 at Team USA’s facilities, the first lady is set to attend various functions and spread an important message: Olympians are powerful and important role models for young children.

Obama reminded Team USA’s athletes that American children everywhere look up to them not only as excellent athletes, but also as promoters of active lifestyles.

“As you all compete here, think of your fellow competitors back home, all those young kids who are going to be thinking of the visions they see of you as they go spike a ball or put their toe in that first water,” Obama said to the American competitors. “They’re going to look at you and then they’re going to try something — right?”

But the first lady also encouraged American and British kids to look up to Olympians as models of athleticism and healthy living. During remarks at a Let’s Move! event at Ambassador to the United Kingdom Louis Susman’s residence, Obama told the children stories of the obstacles that now-famous Olympians Apolo Ohno and Shawn Johnson had to overcome to succeed in their sports.

“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,” she said. “You’ve got to tell yourself that time and time again — right?”