Olympians enjoying foosball during a USOC dinner saluting Olympians at Union Station on Sept. 13, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Olympic
table tennis players Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang were playing Paralympic table
tennis player Tahl Leibovitz in an intense battle of, well, table tennis. Platform diver Brittany Viola joined the
track team for an epic dance party. And
kayaker Caroline Queen was showing off her air hockey skills, defeating
canoeist Casey Eichfeld.
only mean one thing: Team USA had been reunited. And it felt so good.
At the BP
Congressional Reception, held in Union Station, the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic
Teams were together for the first time since both teams were named.
“We at BP
are so proud of Team USA and of the many friends and families that help make
Olympic and Paralympic dreams come true, and we are honored in our partnership
with the U.S. Olympic Committee and many athletes in this room to help fuel the
future for our team,” Executive Vice President of BP North America David Nagel
considered himself “one of the lucky ones” who had the privilege of watching
Team USA enter the Games twice – once at Olympic Opening Ceremony on July 27 and
again at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, Aug. 29.
athletes, for representing your country so well in London. We’re so proud of you,” U.S. Olympic
Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said, before the “Thank You, America” video played (watch it here). The video was a tribute to the entire “team
behind the team,” everyone from coaches to parents to teachers and employers
who helped the athletes of Team USA reach the greatest stage in the world.
evening also marked the first time many Olympians saw their teammates since the
Olympic Games ended more than one month ago.
For the Paralympians, it had been only four days since the Paralympic
Games came to a close but they were equally excited to hang out with their
on a high from London because I only got back three days ago,” Paralympic
swimmer Jessica Long said. “It was
phenomenal and it’s great to come back and see my teammates who I’ve missed.”
an astounding eight medals in London, including five gold, to bring her career
total to 17 Paralympic medals. Long said
she has enjoyed the short time amount of time she’s had at home so far, waking
up without an alarm and indulging in sweets such as brownies.
intends to eventually return to swimming and compete in her fourth Games in Rio
de Janeiro, for now she is enjoying the post-Games fun, which included a visit
to the White House on Friday.
an honor and I’m so glad they have this event for Olympians and Paralympians
because we really are one team, so it’s so great to see them,” Long said.
swimmer Elizabeth Beisel also has missed her teammates – or rather, her family
– since returning to “the grind of things” one month ago.
even that long but it feels like forever!” Beisel realized.
was by far the best trip I’ve ever been on and I’ve been on a lot of trips,”
Beisel said. “We had so much fun, you
can see it through the 'Call Me Maybe' video.
It was like we’re a family, that’s why it’s so exciting to be back here
because we get to see everybody.”
RELATED: How did 'Call Me Maybe' come together?
finished fourth and fifth in her races at the Beijing Games, earned silver in
the 400m IM and bronze in the 200m backstroke in London, before returning to
her Rhode Island hometown to a warm welcome.
picked up from the airport in a limo and they took me to my high school, and
there was like 1,000 people waiting for me on the football field.
“I had no
idea this was going to happen so I walked out of the limo and it was like, ‘Oh my
gosh.’ I was so overwhelmed but it was
so cool to see how much support I was getting from home, because I live in
Florida [for college] so it was good to see how much people in Rhode Island
actually care about swimming.”
Sanya Richards-Ross, on the other hand, has not even had the time to return home
since London. After earning Olympic gold
medals in the 400m and 4x400m relay, Richards-Ross traveled to Budapest,
Stockholm and Zurich to continue competing, and then made her post-Olympic
media rounds in Los Angeles and New York City.
Her reception in the States has been “overwhelming.”
“One of the
things about the Olympics is the popularity has definitely grown and so many
people watched it,” Richards-Ross said. “I literally can’t take two steps without
somebody saying, ‘Oh my God, you’re the Olympian.’ Everyone was so inspired, not just by myself
but by my teammates. It’s such a great
feeling to know you’ve done that for the country.”
had not seen many of her teammates since the Games ended, and she was loving
reuniting with them and reminiscing on their impressive performance in London,
where the U.S. track and field team earned 29 medals.
phenomenal, especially on the women’s side.
With it being the 40th anniversary of Title IX, it just seems
so fitting that we’d have such a great showing to show how far we’ve come. It was great for me to be a part of that and
I was very inspired by my teammates.”