LONDON — First Lady Michelle Obama said Friday she was fulfilling a childhood dream by leading the US delegation to the London Olympics.
"These Games especially affected our little house on the south side of Chicago," she told US athletes at their training base in east London ahead of Friday evening's much anticipated opening ceremony.
"My brother and I, we would dream about how one day, if we worked hard enough, we might be able to achieve something just as great for ourselves."
She added: "I still have those same feelings of pride, excitement and wonder. So being here is otherwordly for me. I'm still so inspired by you and I'm still in awe of everything you have achieved."
She said the Games had a particularly poignant meaning for her family when she was growing up, as her father had watched the events avidly when his battle against multiple sclerosis ended his own ability to play sport.
"In a matter of several years he went from a man who was once a thrivng competitor -- he was a boxer and swimmer throughout high school -- and then he was stripped of all of his hopes," she told the US team.
The First Lady, who campaigns against child obesity, said she hoped watching the US athletes would encourage children at home to "get off the couch".
"Our goal is to get all kids in our country and across the world in a better state of health, and that starts with getting up and moving," she said.
"As you all compete here, think of your fellow competitors back home -- all those young kids who are going to be thinking of visions of you as they go spike a ball or put their toe in that first water."