WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama gathered Team USA at the White House on Friday to hail the Olympians and Paralympians as conquering heroes.

"We could not be prouder of you. You gave us a summer that we will never forget," he told more than 400 athletes crowding bleachers on the South Lawn.

Obama was joined by his wife Michelle, who was in London for the opening of the 2012 Summer Games and led the official U.S. delegation, and Vice President Joe Biden.

It was a banner year for U.S. athletes, who took home 104 medals – 46 of them gold – for their biggest haul at an Olympics not held in the United States. The Paralympics, which came immediately after, attracted 2.7 million spectators, a record.

Obama said he was jealous of his wife's Olympic trip but did his best to keep up with the games by watching TV coverage.

"I've mastered the DVR so I was able to catch a little bit of everything," Obama said, adding he often began his days in the White House exercise room "watching you guys do things that I did not think were humanly possible."

"I was inspired to run a little bit faster watching (Olympic sprinter) Tyson Gay ... (or) do a few more crunches after watching Michael Phelps and the other swimmers," Obama said. He said he personally strained a lot harder – jogging on his treadmill.

Phelps, who became the Olympics' most decorated athlete ever in London, grinned broadly, seated with the other athletes and wearing aviator glasses and team jacket.

The U.S.flag-bearers at the games – Olympic fencer Mariel Zagunis and Paralympic swimmer Brad Snyder, a Navy veteran – presented the Obamas with flags carried during the events' opening ceremonies. Afterward, the president doffed his jacket to shake hands and pose for pictures as the Marine band played the Olympic fanfare.

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  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama, welcome members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcome members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama welcomes members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    From left, first lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, U.S. Paralympic flag bearer and Navy Veteran Brad Snyder, U.S. Olympic flag bearer Mariel Zagunis, and Vice President Joe Biden, take part in a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, to welcome the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams. President Obama was presented with the flag carried by Zagunis and Snyder during the Olympics.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama, and first lady Michelle Obama are presented with the U.S. Olympic flag by Navy Veteran Brad Snyder, and Mariel Zagunis, during a ceremony welcoming the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. At far right is Vice President Joe Biden.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama stops to greet athletes on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, during a ceremony welcoming the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, during a ceremony to welcome the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, welcome members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    From left, first lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, U.S. Paralympic flag bearer and Navy Veteran Brad Snyder, U.S. Olympic flag bearer Mariel Zagunis, and Vice President Joe Biden, take part in a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, to welcome the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams. President Obama was presented with the flag carried by Zagunis and Snyder during the Olympics.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama shakes hands with Paralympic athletes during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, to welcome the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    Vice President Joe Biden walks over to talk to Katie Ledecky, from Bethesda, Md., and a gold medalist in 2012 London Summer Olympics, Friday. Sept. 14, 2012, during a ceremony welcoming the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama is hugged by DeeDee Trotter, a member of the US Olympics relay team during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, where President Barack Obama welcomed the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    US Olympic team relay runner Sanya Richards-Ross uses her cell phone to take a photo with President Barack Obama, as Vice President Joe Biden watches at right, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, where the president welcomed the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    An unidentified member of the US Olympic team flashes a Barack Obama Campaign 2008 trading card to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, where the president welcomed the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by President Barack Obama, jokes around with US Olympic boxer Jose Ramirez, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, during a ceremony to welcome the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

  • Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

    President Barack Obama greets Olympic athletes on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, during a ceremony to welcome the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.