Trump awards medal of freedom to former congressman, Olympian Jim Ryun

Trump awards medal of freedom to former congressman, Olympian Jim Ryun
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE on Friday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former congressman and decorated runner Jim Ryun during a White House ceremony.

The president praised Ryun's conservative record as a lawmaker and his athletic accomplishments, hailing him as a "giant of American athletics" and a "dedicated public servant."

"Jim has personified the greatness of our country throughout his life. Whether he was running on a track race, whether he was doing anything it was — running ... for office, he was always the top person. People respected him," Trump said.


Ryun was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 1966 and set records in the mile and 1,500 meters in 1967. He won a silver medal in the 1968 Olympics.

After spending time as a motivational speaker and hosting training camps for runners, Ryun waded into politics by running for Congress in 1996. He was elected to represent Kansas's 2nd Congressional District in 1996. He won reelection four times before he was defeated in 2006. He ran again in 2008 but lost in a Republican primary.

Ryun, who had a staunchly conservative voting record while in Congress and swiped at those who protest during the national anthem, offered praise for Trump during the ceremony.

"You're doing a great job, keep it up. We need four more years," Ryun said.

Trump has generally honored prominent conservatives and athletes with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his time in office. Previous recipients in the last three years have included former Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchPress: Forget bipartisanship — it's dead! Privatization of foster care has been a disaster for children Remembering Ted Kennedy highlights decline of the Senate MORE (R-Utah), conservative economist Arthur Laffer, pitcher Mariano Rivera, golfer Tiger Woods and racing executive Roger Penske.