Biden praises US Olympians: 'You made me so damn proud'

President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE on Saturday praised the Olympic athletes who represented the United States in Tokyo this summer, telling them “you made me so damn proud.”

In a virtual meeting with Team USA, the president lauded the Olympians for persevering after the games were postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think there’s a harder Olympics to get ready for. You practiced for four years, you got ready and then COVID hit, and you had to wait another year,” Biden said. 

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The president said the athletes reminded him of America’s greatness and “make us look so good as a country.”

“These are the things that people look at around the world, more than anything that I do as your president, or other people do in public life. They get the impression of who we are as Americans," Biden said. "You handled yourself with such grace and such decency and just — you made me so damn proud."

The congratulatory call was organized ahead of the Olympics' closing ceremony, scheduled for Sunday at 8 p.m. local time in Tokyo. First lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount MORE, who led the U.S. delegation to the Games' opening ceremony and attended several events, also joined Saturday's call and congratulated the U.S. athletes.

As of Saturday evening, Team USA led the medal count, winning 108 total medals — including 36 gold medals, 39 silver medals and 33 bronze medals — though China held the most gold medals with 38.

Among the accomplishments of Team USA, track star Allyson Felix became the most decorated track and field star in U.S. history after winning a bronze and gold medal.

Gymnastics star Simone Biles, who sat out most of the competition to focus on her mental health, tied former gymnast Shannon Miller for the most Olympic medals won.

Speaking during the video call with the Bidens on Saturday night, Biles said stepping back to focus on her mental health would “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.”

President Biden applauded the athletes not just for their athletic abilities, but for their moral courage. He applauded track athlete Isaiah Jewett for helping competitor Nijel Amos after they both fell during the 800-meter race.

“When you're getting knocked down by an opponent on track and you stop and go back and pick them up and walk to the finish line — come on, that’s what America is supposed to be about,” Biden said.