Washington, Sep 30 (IANS) US President Barack Obama paid tribute to the Olympic and Paralympic athletes who competed at the Rio Games, emphasising that their diversity makes any child in the country able to see himself or herself in them and be “inspired” to meet any challenge.

Obama welcomed the athletes at a White House ceremony and assured them that their efforts inspire others to “be the best at what they do”, reports Efe on Thursday.

He also invited 18 African American athletes, who participated in the 1936 Games in Berlin but who received no recognition at the time with their white colleagues because of racial segregation.

“There’s no kid in America who can’t look at our Olympic team and see themselves somewhere. That’s part of the reason why we’re successful — because we gather talent from every corner of the globe,” said Obama.

“And through the years of people arriving — whether it’s in Ellis Island or Angel Island or coming over the Rio Grande; some cases, coming not of their own accord — we’ve become something more than just the sum of our parts. We’ve become Americans together.”

“There is ‘something special’ in having ‘all races, all faiths, all traditions, all orientations, all marching together under that same proud flag’, not united by a creed or a color, but by our devotion to an enduring set of ideals,” he added.

Obama also emphasized, for example, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who “became the first American female athlete to compete in the Olympic Games in a hijab.”

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