President Trump Friday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jim Ryun, a three-time Olympian and former GOP congressman from Kansas, calling him a “legendary runner” and “true American patriot.”
“He is a large of American athletics and devoted public servant and a person of charity, generosity, and religion,” Trump stated in a White Home ceremony the place Ryun was joined by his household. “He is an incredible man, really. Jim, thanks a lot to your unfailing devotion to our nation.”
Nicknamed the “grasp of the mile,” Ryun, 73, grew to become the primary highschool athlete to run a mile in beneath 4 minutes and was the final American to carry the world file within the mile run. He went on to grow to be an Olympic silver medalist earlier than turning to public service as a five-term congressman from Kansas.
“I want we had him now,” Trump stated of Ryun’s service within the Home of Representatives.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. Presidents historically honor People who’ve made excellent contributions to the safety or nationwide pursuits of the US, to world peace, or to cultural or different important public or non-public endeavors.
Trump’s earlier honorees have included conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, golfer Tiger Woods, former NBA basketball star Jerry West, former New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, auto racing chief Roger Penske, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Dr. Miriam Adelson, an Israeli-American philanthropist and distinguished GOP donor.
Trump has honored people posthumously, together with the late Supreme Court docket Justice Antonin Scalia, music legend Elvis Presley and baseball nice Babe Ruth.
Ryun’s begin in sports activities was a rocky one.
In junior excessive, a younger Ryun was cut by his church’s baseball team and the junior excessive basketball staff and could not even make the junior excessive monitor staff.
Ryun would go to mattress each night time and pray for assist.
“Pricey God, I would like my life to quantity to one thing,” Ryun recalled the prayer. “I consider you have got a plan for my life. I would respect your assist in figuring it out. And should you may assist me out, make a plan that would come with sports activities of some sort. I would actually respect it. Thanks. Good night time.
“God, certainly, did present up in an enormous means,” Ryun stated Friday within the White Home ceremony.
Ryun discovered distance working and went on to grow to be a world-class athlete and one of the crucial achieved American runners.
He made the Wichita East Excessive College monitor staff as a sophomore and as a 17-year-old outdated junior in 1964 he grew to become the primary excessive schooler to clock a time of three minutes and 59 seconds.
Ryun went on to compete within the 1964 Olympic Video games and break world information for the indoor half-mile and outside mile whereas on the College of Kansas. He received the silver medal on the 1968 Mexico Metropolis Olympic Video games, and competed within the 1972 Munich Video games.
“When ESPN ranked the best highschool athletes of all time, all sports activities, they listed Jim Ryun as primary. That is not unhealthy for a man who could not make his baseball staff,” Trump stated.
After athletics, Ryun was a Republican member of Congress from Kansas, serving from 1996 to 2007.
His son, Ted Ryun, has been energetic in politics, too. He is founder and CEO of American Majority, a bunch that trains conservative activists.
On the ceremony, Ted honored his dad’s integrity, humility and honesty and stated he’d aspire to be “half the person that he’s.”
Jim Ryun praised Trump’s patriotism and presidency.
“In a day and age when many assume it is applicable to dishonor our flag, I’ll inform you, it is likely one of the best honors and privileges of my life to characterize this superb nation and to put on the celebs and stripes on my chest whereas racing within the 60s and 70s,” Ryun stated. “There was such satisfaction and love of nation, and I can’t inform you, Mr. President, how a lot I respect your full-throated champion of this nice nation.”