This week, President Donald J. Trump will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jim Ryun. This prestigious award is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, which may be awarded by the President to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Jim Ryun is one of the most accomplished American runners in history and a former United States Representative from Kansas. Despite being cut from every athletic team in junior high, Ryun made the track team at Wichita East High School, where he went on to break the world record for the mile and compete in the 1964 Olympic Games. While at the University of Kansas, Ryun broke several more world records, won the silver medal at the 1968 Mexico City Games, and competed in the 1972 Munich Games. Among many other accolades, he was named ABC Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year and earned the James E. Sullivan Amateur Athlete Award. Following his outstanding athletic career, Ryun honorably served his home State of Kansas in the United States Congress from 1996 to 2006. He has since written three books and currently gives motivational speeches around the country.