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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 3, 2001
Remarks by the President In Ceremony Honoring Lance Armstrong
The East Room
3:00 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. It's my privilege to welcome you all to the White House, and to welcome my friend, a true champ, a great American, Lance Armstrong. (Applause.) America's incredibly proud of Lance, and I know two people who are really proud of him as well, that's Kristin, his wife, and young Luke. Thank you all for coming, as well. (Applause.)
We're also honored to have Chris Fowler of ESPN here. I'm so -- thank you for coming, Chris. I was telling Chris a little earlier, it's one of the programs I can watch on TV that doesn't say anything about me at all. (Laughter.)
I want to thank the members of my Cabinet who are here. Thank you all for coming. I want to thank the members of the United States Congress and the Senate who are here. I see a lot from the Texas delegation here that are sure proud of you.
You all know the Tour de France is perhaps the most physically demanding event in sports. It lasts three weeks, stretches over 2100 miles, and is often run in both sweltering heat and real cold weather. In the end, the race is won or lost in the mountains. During five days of climbs that are incredibly steep and hazardous -- that's when the heart is tested, and that's when Lance Armstrong excels.
In the hardest part of the race, Lance reveals an unbending will, uncommon determination and unquestioned courage. He has shown that courage is sport. He has also shown that courage in life.
Just a few years ago, Lance was diagnosed with cancer. He was weakened by chemotherapy treatments and told he had a 50-50 chance of living. He has done more than survive: He has triumphed. (Applause.)
One observer commented that when you survive cancer, the French Alps start to look like speed bumps. (Laughter.)
Lance's story from cancer diagnosis to a third straight victory in the Tour de France is one of the great human stories. It is a story of character and it is a story of class.
Germany's Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de France champion, is Lance Armstrong's chief competitor. The two of them were leading during a critical stage of this year's Tour de France when Ullrich lost control of his bicycle, missed a turn and ended up in a ditch. When Lance saw what happened, he slowed down in order to allow his chief competitor to recover. It was, as Lance said, the right thing to do.
We need more citizens who know to do the right thing. Lance Armstrong. (Applause.) He's something else, isn't he?
Lance Armstrong is a vivid reminder that the great achievements of life are often won or lost in the mountains, when the climb is the steepest, when the heart is tested. There are many children in this audience who are showing similar determination in their fight with cancer and other serious illnesses. You face tough challenges and you embrace life day by day. You're showing courage on your own journey, and all of us are inspired by your example as well.
Ladies and gentleman, it is my honor to present to you a son of Texas, a great American champion, and an extraordinary human being: Lance Armstrong. (Applause.)
MR. ARMSTRONG: Thank you very much. You know, it's an honor to be here. President Bush has been a friend of ours and a friend of mine for many years, back in -- since his days in Austin, right in the wonderful state of Texas. As an American, as an athlete, to be honored here in the White House, to be welcomed here like this, to see a crowd like this, to see children like this that I've never met before, but I think I relate to very well --
(Luke Armstrong cheers.)
MR. ARMSTRONG: -- even this little guy, I think I relate to very well, who's the most vocal one here. What color is that is that jersey?
LUKE ARMSTRONG: Yo-yo.
MR. ARMSTRONG: Yo-yo, yes. (Laughter and applause.) It's an honor to be here. And again, I can't say enough, to have my family, to have some friends, to have this room full of people to welcome us home and to make us feel like Americans and like -- and maybe even like heroes. I don't know; that's not a word we can give to ourselves, but thanks for having us.
To the kids, good luck, fight hard, stay tough, and believe. Actually, we have one more thing to do. Because, as you see, there's a bicycle here that me and Kristin and Luke would like to present to the President. We expect him to ride it. (Laughter.)
We also have a yellow jersey from this year's Tour de France we would like him to wear while he rides the bike. (Applause.)
(A bike and a jersey are presented.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all for coming to the White House. May God bless you all. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 3:05 P.M. EDT