Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Katie Ledecky, Jim Thorpe named Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

Olympic champions Katie Ledecky and Jim Thorpe (posthumous) will be among 19 people awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.

Ledecky is a seven-time Olympic swimming gold medalist dating to her first title at the 2012 London Games at age 15. She will bid to make a fourth Olympic team at trials next month in Indianapolis.

Ledecky, now 27, will be the second-youngest athlete to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom after Simone Biles, who was 25 when she was a recipient in 2022. Ledecky was born three days after Biles in March 1997.

Thorpe was the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal, according to the White House.

In 2022, Thorpe was reinstated as the sole winner of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon in Stockholm — nearly 110 years after being stripped of those gold medals for violations of strict amateurism rules of the time.

In 1982 — 29 years after Thorpe’s death — the IOC gave duplicate gold medals to his family. He was listed as a co-gold medalist in both events before the 2022 decision.

Thorpe, who is also a Pro Football Hall of Famer and played Major League Baseball, to some remains the greatest all-around athlete ever. He was voted as The Associated Press Athlete of the Half Century in a poll in 1950.

Ledecky and Thorpe join a long list of Olympians to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including Jesse Owens (1976), Muhammad Ali (2005) and Pat Summitt (2012).

Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, who is an International Olympic Committee member, is also part of Friday’s group of 19 medal recipients.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.