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Simone Biles, Megan Rapinoe join Olympians to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Simone Biles

US President Joe Biden presents gymnast Simone Biles with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, during a ceremony honoring 17 recipients, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 7, 2022. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Simone Biles and Megan Rapinoe are the latest Olympians to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Biles is the youngest living person ever to receive the medal out of hundreds, President Joe Biden said Thursday in awarding the medals.

Biden named 17 recipients of the honor last Friday, also including Steve Jobs, John McCain and Denzel Washington.

The medal is “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. “President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith. They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come.”

Biles, 25, shatters Tiger Woods’ record as the youngest athlete to receive the honor. Woods was 43 in 2019.

The White House noted that Biles, in addition to her gymnastics accolades, “is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault.”

Rapinoe, an Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion, is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQI+ rights.

They join a long list of Olympians to receive the honor, including Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali and Pat Summitt.

It’s the fourth consecutive year that at least one Olympian received the Presidential Medal of Freedom after Jerry West in 2019, Dan Gable and Jim Ryun in 2020 and Babe Didrikson Zaharias posthumously in 2021.

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