By Tanveer Kaur
Team USA athletes Megan Rapinoe and Simone Biles received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 7, 2022, presented to them by President Biden in a ceremony at the White House. The two athletes received the civilian honor alongside 15 others. Both honorees represent historic firsts; Megan Rapinoe is the first soccer player to receive the honor, while Simone Biles becomes the youngest recipient at 25 years old.
In his speech honoring Rapinoe and Biles’ performance at the Tokyo Olympics, President Biden said “Beyond the World Cup titles and the Olympic medals, Megan is a champion for [an] essential American truth that everyone—everyone—is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“Today, [Biles] adds to her medal count of 32 … I don’t know if you’re gonna find room,” Biden added.
Biden also applauded Biles for her courage during the Tokyo Olympics to put her mental health first, starting an international conversation around athletes’ mental health “to turn personal pain into a greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Megan Rapinoe has long been an advocate for social causes, ranging from LGBTQ+ rights to equal pay. Her most recent victory came through her agreeing to sign the Collective Bargaining Agreement, sponsored by both the players and the U.S. Soccer Federation this past May.
“Megan did something really consequential, she helped lead the change for perhaps the most important victory for anyone on her soccer team, or any soccer team: equal pay for women,” Biden said. Rapinoe has played on the USWNT since 2006, helping the team to secure an Olympic gold medal and two FIFA World Cup titles.
Simone Biles in both the 2016 and 2020 Olympics has secured four gold, one silver and two bronze medals, while also earning 19 World Championship gold medals.