Michelle Obama keynotes 100-days to Rio Games NYC party

Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:36pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. first lady Michelle Obama launched a 100-days from the Rio Olympics street party on Wednesday featuring more than 75 Olympians in an interactive carnival on two blocks of teeming Times Square.

Obama, who developed the Let's Move program to address the problem of child obesity, hailed the U.S. Olympians as role models and joined in demonstrations of basketball and fencing in the slender island that runs between Broadway and 7th Avenue.

"One of the reasons I wanted to be here today to kick this off, to be a part of the 100-day celebration, is that we're not just talking about bringing home the gold," Obama, wearing a U.S. track suit, said in a keynote to the six-hour event.

"The Olympics are also about inspiring young people here at home, truly, to get them active and to live up to the example that our Olympic and Paralympic athletes have always set with their dedication, their determination, their unyielding commitment to excellence."

After engaging in a passing drill with members of the U.S. basketball team, Obama was shown some fencing moves using foam sabres with Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will become the first U.S. Olympian to represent her country wearing a hijab.

"Never allow other people's misconceptions to block you from reaching your goals," she told Reuters about her path to the Olympics. "We don't have to fit into this box. We can come as we are.

"We don't have to look the same, or dress the same or have the same cultural values to be successful."

Decorated Olympians including nine-time athletics gold medal winner Carl Lewis, swimmers Janet Evans and Rowdy Gaines and gymnasts Shannon Miller and Nastia Liukin, gave autographs and visited with fans who filed past.   Continued...

Apr 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA;  First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a basketball demonstration during the U.S. Olympic Committee 100 day countdown event to the Rio 2016 Games at Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports