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U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Visit White House in Celebration of London 2012 Games Success
September 14, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an event that has become a much-anticipated highlight of Olympic years, more than 400 members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams visited the White House today, meeting with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and participating in a special reception on the South Lawn to celebrate and honor the team's success at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
"On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, I want to thank President Obama and Mrs. Obama for welcoming these great Olympians and Paralympians to the White House today to commemorate their competitive achievements at the London Games," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "Of equal importance is recognizing the manner in which America's finest athletes conducted themselves off the field of play, truly representing the very best of the United States. That is something that should make all fans and supporters of Team USA extremely proud."
The London 2012 Olympic Games marked a record-breaking campaign for the U.S. Olympic Team, which collected more gold medals than ever before on foreign soil. With 104 total medals won - including 46 golds, 29 silvers and 29 bronzes - Team USA led the medal count for the fifth straight Games, dating back to 1996. Overall, 208 U.S. athletes medaled at the 2012 Games, including 27 who won more than one medal and 13 who won multiple gold medals.
"All of us are tremendously proud to represent the United States, so visiting the White House today, as a team, means a great deal to us and marks a perfect ending to a great summer for Team USA," said Mariel Zagunis, three-time Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012) and London 2012 Opening Ceremony flag bearer. "To be selected by my team to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony was a huge honor, but it's the camaraderie and shared experience of being a member of Team USA that we cherish most of all, and that is what we are celebrating today."
The London 2012 Paralympic Games spotlighted the Paralympic Movement, raising the profile of the tremendous athletic accomplishments and personal stories of the competing athletes. On the field of the play, the U.S. Paralympic Team collected 98 total medals, including 31 golds, 29 silvers and 38 bronzes.
"It is an honor to be here at the White House with my teammates to celebrate the culmination of an unforgettable experience at the London Paralympic Games," said Brad Snyder, U.S. Navy lieutenant and 2012 Paralympic gold medalist. "I think I can speak for all of us when I say we couldn't be more proud to be members of Team USA or more thankful to all who have supported us as we worked to achieve our goals of competing at the highest levels of sport."
To mark the visit, Zagunis and Snyder presented the President and first lady with an American flag sewn from 29,254 donated stitches as part of the Raise Our Flag program. The flag, representing the direct support of the American public, traveled to London with members of the U.S. Olympic Team and was displayed in USA House, the team headquarters, throughout the Games.
USOC, banner photo courtesy of Row2k