The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics is just hours away, and Michelle Obama is in London not just to enjoy the festivities, but also lend them her star power in the hope that the Games will inspire kids to become involved in sports. TODAY’s Al Roker caught up with the first lady at the Winfield House, the U.S. Ambassador’s home in London, where she hosted an event for Let's Move!.
“This is a lot of fun,” she said. “We invited U.S. military families here as well as kids from the U.K. who normally wouldn't have access to the Olympic Games. The U.S. Ambassador opened up his yard and we've had games, we've had David Beckham out here, had a number of the U.S. athletes, the current and former Olympians here, and we've just been playing on the lawn."
The first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative is dedicated to tackling the problem of childhood obesity so children will grow up happier, healthier and able to pursue their dreams.
The event hosted 1,500 kids who spent the afternoon at a plethora of activities and sports stations, which included a round of tennis with the United States Tennis Association and soccer with English team Manchester United. A marching band and DJ kept everybody going. Athletes in attendance included not only soccer superstar Beckham, but also such Olympic medalists as gymnast Dominique Dawes, Paralympic javelin thrower Gabriel Diaz de Leon, and soccer player Brandi Chastain.
The first lady has been a fan of the Olympics for a lifetime. “I don't think I'm different from any other kid in the country growing up,” she said. “The Olympics was it.” She said that she grew up watching sports, especially with her father, whose own athletic activities were curtailed by multiple sclerosis.
“Sports and the ability to watch sports was really all he had, so it meant a lot to the family,” the first lady told Roker. “Now being able to meet some of these Paralympians who are doing so much, and pushing through, and being inspiring to other kids of all abilities, is truly an amazing thing to see.”
Tonight the first lady will lead the U.S. delegation in the Opening Ceremony. “It will be awe-inspiring for me. It will be humbling,” she said. “I've never been to an Olympics before, and to go from never attending an Olympics to heading the U.S. delegation will be a proud moment for me personally. And I know it's going to be exciting for everyone.”
Once the Games begin, Mrs. Obama is hoping to see some tennis and swimming and possibly a little basketball; her husband is a known hoops fan. Since his duties as Commander in Chief will preclude his attending the Games, “He is so jealous of me right now,” she said.
Roker asked the first lady to weigh in on the match-up that has become the talk of the games. Who will do better in swimming: Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte?
“Oh, my goodness,” she exclaimed. “No way. I'm not going for that. Go Team USA!”