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Obama's Olympic well-wishes

Obama's Olympic well-wishes

POSTED: Saturday, August 4, 2012 - 8:30pm

UPDATED: Saturday, August 4, 2012 - 8:34pm

President Barack Obama put politics aside on Saturday, using his weekly address to recognize the sportsmanship, success and sacrifice of the U.S. Olympic team.

Obama stayed stateside -- holding official events and hitting the campaign trail -- while his wife, Michelle, led the official U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony of the London games.

"I've got to admit I was a little jealous she got to go," he said. "But like many of you, I caught as many events as I could, jumping off the couch for a close race or a perfect vault."

The United States, with a total of 43 medals, led other countries in the medal count as of Friday evening.

In his address, Obama highlighted some of the most prominent American victories.

"I watched the wonderful young women of our gymnastics team recapture the team gold for America, and I was filled with pride watching Gabby Douglas win the all-around gold with incredible poise and grace," Obama said. "I watched our swimmers win a haul of medals, and Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. I saw our women's soccer team power through the competition."

He also noted "athletes in sports that don't always get as much attention," congratulating the women's rowing team on their gold and several individual medals.

"Kayla Harrison won America's first-ever gold medal in judo, and Marti Malloy won a bronze," he continued. "Kim Rhode became the first American to win individual medals in five straight Olympics with her gold in skeet shooting and her teammate, Army Sgt. Vincent Hancock, won his second skeet gold."

Obama also recognized the "character" and sportsmanship of the U.S. athletes at the games, including those competing in both the Olympics and Paralympics.

"It's not the medal count alone that inspires us," he said. "Most of our athletes won't claim a medal at all. It's the character of the men and women who compete for those medals. It's their hard work and sacrifice -- the countless hours in the gym, in the pool, on the track. It's their dogged perseverance and unyielding determination, through disappointment and triumph alike."

He has weighed in on the Olympics previously this week, tweeting on Tuesday, "Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You've made your country proud. -bo."

Campaigning in Mansfield, Ohio, on Wednesday, Obama told supporters, "I had a chance on the way over here to call up the women's gymnastic team for bringing home the gold."

"When people run track, I understand -- I know how to run. They're just much faster," he said to laughter. "And I know how to swim -- they just swim much better than I do. These gymnastics folks -- I don't understand how they do what they do. So I told these young ladies as I was congratulating them, how do you not bust your head every time you're on that little balance beam? I couldn't walk across that balance beam."

And in his weekly address on Saturday, he looked to the week ahead.

"Go get 'em this week, Team USA," he said. "We can't wait to welcome you home."

Although House Majority Leader Eric Candor focused the Republican weekly address on taxes, he added, "We wish our athletes in London the very best."

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