Local Olympian visits White House

Paige McPherson
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Members of the 2016 U-S Olympic and Paralympic Teams are showing off their gold, silver, and bronze medals to the president, vice president, and first lady Thursday.
And Olympian Paige McPherson of Sturgis made a return appearance to the White House.
Our Washington correspondent Ted Fioraliso reports – it's one of several events for Team U-S-A in our nation's capital.

They're the best of the best.
U-S Olympians and Paralympians did our country proud during the 2016 Rio Games.
Now, they're getting big props from the commander-in-chief.

President Obama says, "This year's summer Olympians gave us enough milestones and moments to last the next four years."

It's one of several events the athletes are participating while they're in Washington…

Wednesday night, they walked and wheeled down the red carpet at Georgetown University for the Team USA Awards.

I caught up with gold medal swimmer Leah Smith – a student at the University of Virginia. She's never been to the White House!

Smith says, "When I meet a celebrity, it's just crazy to me because I realize they're a real person. I'm just super excited to go to White House and be with my Team USA teammates."

Claressa Shields says, "I was thinking about giving him a nice, hard punch so he won't forget me!"

Boxer Claressa Shields of Flint, Michigan won gold in 2012 and 2016, but she wasn't able to attend the White House ceremony last time.

"Hopefully he watches boxing. I know he went to visit Flint. He probably knows of me, probably not. But I'll speak to him, get a picture, and say hello."

Others here are White House veterans. Paige McPherson of Sturgis, South Dakota won the bronze medal in taekwondo four years ago and met the president then.

McPherson says, "I was star-struck when I first met him. I actually forgot my name!"

Even though she didn't medal this year, Paige is excited to be back and share in the moment with her teammates.

"To be here to celebrate not just the medals, but the entire Olympic spirit is truly an honor."

In Washington, I'm Ted Fioraliso.