By Nandita Bose
WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden applauded U.S. Olympic athletes on Saturday for showing courage under pressure and uniting the country, a day after inviting them to the White House following the Tokyo Games.
The second biggest U.S. Olympic team ever – with 613 athletes – stands second in the Tokyo medal table with 108 medals, more than any other country.
“It wasn’t just your athletic ability, it was your moral courage … you remind us of what an amazing country we are and you make us look so good as a country,” Biden said on a video call with athletes and their family members on Saturday.
Biden also praised individual athletes such as American gymnast Simone Biles, who withdrew from events such as the individual all-around and team all-around citing mental health concerns, but returned to win the bronze medal in beam.
“You showed everything about who we are as people,” Biden said, praising her for setting an example and not giving up.
He also praised Isaiah Jewett, who was in prime position to finish in the top two in his 800 meters heat but was unintentionally tripped by Botswana’s Nijel Amos. In a display of sportsmanship, Jewett helped Amos to his feet and the two finished the race.
First Lady Jill Biden, who traveled to Tokyo to represent the United States and support U.S. competitors, said America has needed healing and the event brought much joy.
“All the athletes in the games brought Americans together and brought us joy again and for that I thank you,” she said.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Daniel Wallis)