Trump Gives Medal of Freedom to Olympian, Former Lawmaker Jim Ryun
President Donald Trump gave one of the highest civilian honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to a former Kansas Republican congressman who won a silver medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics.
Former Representative Jim Ryun, 73, served Kansas’s 2nd Congressional District from 1996 to 2006. Prior to his terms in office, he medaled in the 1,500-meter race at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. He also competed in the 1964 and 1972 Olympic Games.
Ryun became the first high school athlete to “smash the four minute barrier,” Trump said during an event in the White House Friday. Ryun went on to run a mile in what was a world record pace at the time.
“That’s not bad for a guy who couldn’t make his high school baseball team,” Trump said, to laughter from the crowd in attendance.
Ryun has since written three books and currently gives motivational speeches around the country, the White House said in a statement prior to the event.
The Medal of Freedom is awarded to civilians for significant wartime contributions and, since 1963, to civilians or military people for any of various achievements. Trump has presented the honor to more than a dozen individuals since taking office in 2016, including conservative media personality Rush Limbaugh, Israeli-American philanthropist and Republican donor Miriam Adelson and former Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.
Trump has given the honor to several athletes, including golfer Tiger Woods, former auto racer Roger Penske and, posthumously to baseball legend Babe Ruth. When president, Barack Obamagave the award to a dozen athletes, including former basketball superstars Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, tennis icon Billie Jean King and a posthumous award to baseball legend Yogi Berra.
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