President Bush encourages US Olympians

August 10, 2008

Great to hear that President George W. Bush is doing the rounds amongst US athletes participating in the 2008 Beijing Olympics – surely great encouragement for those who have seen and spoken with him. Bush always said he wanted to attend the Olympics in Beijing to celebrate sport and Americans sportsmanship, and on Saturday, he did so with zeal.

He hit the sand with the American women’s volleyball team, dropped in on softball practice and took his own ride through the Olympic mountain biking course — all before attending his first event, the American women’s basketball game versus the Czech Republic on Saturday night.

INSERT DESCRIPTIONThe president during a visit with the women’s volleyball team on Saturday. (Photo: Thomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

“Mr. President, want to?” said Misty May-Treanor, half of the dominant American beach volleyball, turning her backside toward the president for the sport’s traditional method of encouragement: a slap.

Mr. Bush complied, though with a discrete flick of the back of his hand on her lower back. Dressed in a casual blue shirt and khakis, even a visor, he was even enticed to try a few volleys himself, quickly working up a sweat in the Beijing swelter (and comporting himself rather well).

The president — college cheerleader, baseball owner, sports enthusiast — is clearly enjoying his immersion in the American Olympic effort.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what to say to you, except to start with, God, I love our country and I love what we stand for,” he told the team during a greeting at the Fencing Hall, where he mugged and posed for pictures for a full hour on Friday. (His daughter, Barbara, scored a picture with Lebron James.) “And I love being with you.”

The morning after attending the opening ceremonies, Mr. Bush managed his typical weekend workout on his mountain bike, only this time at the Laoshan Mountain Bike Course. It was his second time on the course, having ridden it with the Chinese team during a visit in 2005. “Biking was really, really difficult,” he acknowledged afterwards, adding, “That’s why they call it an Olympic course.”

At a practice of the women’s softball team, Mr. Bush expressed his support for keeping the sport in the Olympics after Beijing.

“It’s good for the world to have girls playing softball,” Mr. Bush said, his back marked by a chalk handprint, a prank of the centerfielder, Laura Berg, “and these women are going to show girls how to win.”

On Sunday he is scheduled to attend men’s and women’s swimming and the men’s basketball game against China, after squeezing in a bit of work: meetings with President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders.

Ok so I realise that beach volley ball is hardly extreme in a sporting sense but right at the moment it is hard to get away from what is happening in Beijing. I have included a short YouTube video of the said Misty May-Treanor – what can I say – it is understandable why the President chose to visit the beach volley ball team rather than the weight lifting team!

It just remains for me to thank Steve Lee Myers of the New York Times who brought us this news.



  1. George appears to be really enjoying himself. Why not? He has the best seats and access nobody else has – practices, team meetings, riding the bike course.

  2. And why not indeed…

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