Michelle Obama arrives in Britain for start of two-day Olympic visit

 

Michelle Obama arrived in Britain today for the start of a two-day visit designed to showcase the best of Team USA – and perhaps steal a little thunder from her husband's gaffe prone presidential rival Mitt Romney.

The First Lady has taken on an increasingly public role in the run up to this November's elections and is leading America's delegation to the Games without her husband.

Her packed itinerary today included visiting Team USA at their Docklands training camp, hosting a party for 1,000 children in the gardens of the US ambassador's residence and dinner at Buckingham Palace before heading to Stratford for tonight's opening ceremony.

Tomorrow she will meet with Samantha Cameron and watch US athletes compete before flying back to Washington on Sunday.

In contrast to Mr Romney, who began his London visit with a somewhat ill-judged television interview questioning London's ability to host the Olympics, Mrs Obama kicked off with a series of slick choreographed events designed to publicise her campaign against childhood obesity and whip up enthusiasm for the Games.

For the waiting press core it was clear that the Obama show had truly come to town. Heavily armed police officers guarded the sprawling residence whilst inside twitchy Secret Service agents communicated through their earpieces.

White House staff were on hand to advise journalists on the dos and don't of covering the First Lady. “Don't run,” advised one. “The Secret Service don't like running.”

But when she finally appeared, accompanied by an enormous marching band from Florida, the atmosphere turned carnival. In keeping with the Olympic spirit, Mrs Obama decided ditched her political attire in favour of a sporty blue and white tracksuit as she jogged towards a crowd of screaming American and British children in the garden of the US ambassador's Regents Park residence.

Since her husband assumed office in 2008, Mrs Obama has made it her personal cause to try and turn around America's explosion in childhood obesity. And to drill the message home the embassy had drummed up a host of sporting celebrities including David Beckham and former US Olympic champions such as Carl Lewis, Apolo Ohno and Teresa Edwards.

“These are men and women who've won dozens of medals and broken countless records,” she said, referring to the athletes standing behind her. “They have made us all so proud. But let's not forget, these folks weren't born Olympians right. In fact many of them started out just like you. Just playing, playing in a team at school or practising at their local gym, or a rink or a pool. What they did do is that they stuck with it, even when things got hard they stuck with it.”

Mrs Obama used Apolo Ohno as an example. When the speed skater first tried out for the Olympic team in 1998, she said, he came in last. “They were like no thank you Apolo,” she joked. “But he didn't give up, he just  trained a little harder and he went on to win more gold medals than any other American winter Olympic athlete in history.”

Compared to Mr Romney's arrival in Britain, it was a flawless start – something that was not lost on nine times gold medal winner Carl Lewis.

“Every Olympics is ready,” he said when asked by The Independent whether he thought the Republican presidential candidate had a point. “I don't care whatever he [Romney] said. I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country. Are you kidding me, stay home if you don't know what to say.”

Asked what the thousands of athletes should be do as they take part in the opening ceremony he said: “Forget about the games and just enjoy the ceremony. Tomorrow is when it all starts. Today they should enjoy it, meet people from other countries. Then tomorrow act like it's a normal competition.”

What she wore: The Verdict

By Rebecca Gonsalves

It seems that patriotic dressing is a fashion disaster that can happen to the best of them as Michelle Obama, who rarely puts a foot wrong appeared in east London in a jacket that looked like it was borrowed from a barbershop quartet.

The panelled patchwork design of an otherwise bog standard white jacket caused her to blend into an unfortunately placed stars and stripes flag in the background. Without the candy cane jacket the ensemble of coral bell shaped top and black trousers was unremarkable for a woman who has won style points for patronising a savvy selection of American designer and high street names from Jason Wu to J Crew.

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Nadine Gordimer died peacefully at home yesterday
people
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor