President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden virtually met with members of Team USA in a in a virtual teleconference Saturday, thanking the group of athletes for giving Americans "so much hope.”
"I know you have a sense of it, but I don't think you'll appreciate until you get home how proud you made America, not just the winning ... You really represented America. You really represented the soul of the country," Biden said.
"It wasn't just your athletic ability. It was your moral courage," he added.
Biden offered shout-outs to some of the athletes, including middle-distance runner Isaiah Jewett and swimmer Katie Ledecky who won the 1500-meter and 800-meter freestyle golds in Tokyo and silvers in the 400-meter freestyle and 4x200-meter freestyle relay.
"Katie, if you're on here, I realize that you can probably swim a mile quicker than most people can run a mile," he joked.
The president also offered high praise for gymnast Simone Biles, who withdrew from the team competition citing her health.
"Simone Biles, the courage you had to get back up on that beam at the very end and you still won the Bronze, you showed everything about who we are as a people," Biden said. “You had the courage—no, I really mean it, I'm not, I'm not playing, you had the courage to say, ‘I need some help. I need some help, I need some time.’ And you gave an example to everybody -- and guess what, you got back up on that damn beam, and by the way, the thing that frightens me the most is the beam.”
Biles won the bronze medal on the balance beam after withdrawing from four individual finals at the Tokyo Olympics. After her win, she revealed that her aunt "unexpectedly" died during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"These are the things people look at around the world, more than anything that I do as your President or other people do in public life," Biden said. "They get the impression of who we are as Americans, who we are, and you handle yourself with such grace and such decency. You made me so damn proud,"
The President also took the opportunity to invite the athletes to visit him in the White House this fall.
“We'll set a date, and I'd love to have you all come to the White House, if you're willing to do that, so the nation can see, and I can brag more on you," he said.