Aug 8, 2021 - Sports

"So proud": Biden praises U.S. Olympic athletes during virtual meeting

 President Joe Biden speaks during an event on the July jobs numbers in the East Room of the White House August 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
President Biden during a White House event on Friday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden told U.S. Olympians during a virtual meeting Saturday evening that they "made me so damn proud" and invited the athletes to visit the White House in the fall.

Driving the news: "You handled yourself with such grace and such decency," Biden told the athletes, noting during the call from his home near Wilmington, Delaware, alongside first lady Jill Biden, they had to overcome disruptions like the pandemic, which delayed the Tokyo Olympic Games by a year.

Of note: Biden told gymnastics superstar Simone Biles that she "gave an example to everybody" when she withdrew from several events to prioritize her mental health.

  • "You had the courage to say, 'I need some help,'" Biden said.
  • "And guess what, by the way, you got back up on that damned beam!" the president added, referring to Biles' decision to compete in her final Tokyo Olympic Games event — which saw her win a bronze medal.

What she's saying: Biles noted during the Zoom call that her decision to focus on her mental health was "probably be one of my greatest accomplishments."

  • "If you would have asked me in my younger years I would have probably been too stubborn," Biles said. "But at that point I knew that I just had to take a step back, let the other girls go up and do their job and I’m very proud of the way the handled everything."
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