In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said he was taking "a break from the back-and-forth of campaign season" to talk about the Olympics, which he said "remind us that for all our differences, we're Americans first. And we could not be prouder of the men and women representing our country in London, in both the Olympics and in the Paralympics."
He said he, like many Americans, had watched "as many events as I could, jumping off the couch for a close race, or a perfect vault."
"I watched the wonderful young women of our gymnastics team recapture the team gold for America, and I was filled with pride watching Gabby Douglas win the all-around gold with incredible poise and grace," Obama said. "I watched our swimmers win a haul of medals, and Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. I saw our women's soccer team power through the competition."
The president said he was "just as proud of all our athletes in sports that don't always get as much attention," including rowing, judo and skeet shooting.
"I also thought of the truly difficult journeys that many of our athletes have made," he said. "Some have faced personal loss, or beaten cancer. Some have worked long shifts at multiple jobs to feed their Olympic dream.
"So it's no surprise America is vying for the top of the medal count," Obama said. "But it's not the medal count alone that inspires us -- most of our athletes won't claim a medal at all. It's the character of the men and women who compete for those medals."
Obama credited the U.S. team's success to "that American spirit -- that says even though we may have very different stories to tell; even though we may not look alike or talk alike or be dealt the same hand in life -- if we work hard, we can achieve our dreams.
"Go get 'em this week, Team USA," the president said. "We can't wait to welcome you home."
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]