Biden presented Presidential Medals of Freedom at the White House

Biden presented Presidential Medals of Freedom at the White House

Gymnast Simone Biles and soccer player Megan Rapinoe, a two-time world champion, were among 17 recipients honored Thursday at the White House with the Joe Biden Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The highest U.S. civilian award is given to those who make “particularly meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other important public or private endeavors.”

The most decorated American gymnast, who has won 32 medals at the Olympics and world championships, Biles has repeatedly performed exercises that defy the laws of nature, and at the Tokyo Olympics she acted as an advocate for the mental health of athletes.

The youngest among the awardees, Biles, 25, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that U.S. gymnastics team management failed to stop the sexual abuse of female athletes by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Megan Rapinoe won Olympic gold in 2012 and has been a leading advocate for gender pay equity in the national soccer team’s legal battle with management.

“Megan is a champion of a basic American truth: Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect,” President Biden said at the award ceremony.

Rapinoe came to the ceremony wearing a white jacket with the initials BG embroidered on the lapel, apparently in support of Brittney Griner, who is incarcerated in Russia on drug trafficking charges.

Awards were also given to the late Senator and presidential candidate John McCain, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, an advocate for gun violence prevention, and Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington.

“I was the one who gave John McCain the idea to run for president,” Biden said. – “I knew what an incredibly courageous, intelligent and conscientious man he was.

The recipients of the posthumous medal, in addition to McCain, include former American Federation of Labor and Congress of Manufacturing Unions (AFL-CIO) president Richard Trumka and Apple founder Steve Jobs.