Legendary Runner Jim Ryun Will Receive Presidential Medal Of Freedom

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
Font Size:

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he planned to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to legendary Olympic athlete Jim Ryun.

Ryun, born in 1947, was the first high school student to run a mile in under four minutes in 1964. He went on to be a three-time track and field Olympian. He competed in the 1964 and 1972 games, and won a silver medal in Mexico City in 1968. (RELATED: Tiger Woods Holds Back Tears As Trump Awards Him Presidential Medal Of Freedom)

But Ryun’s journey was not an easy one. Some 50 years after he made history with that legendary mile, Ryun reflected on the struggles he’d faced as he attempted to get on the athletic field — any athletic field — in junior high school.

“During my junior high days, I’d go to bed at night and pray, ‘Dear God, if you’ve got a plan for my life, I’d appreciate it if you’d show up sooner or later, because it’s not going very well,'” Ryun told Varsity Kansas in 2014. “‘And if you could fit sports into it, I’d really like that.'”

Ryun went on to share that he had been cut from every team he’d tried out for: his church’s baseball team, the Curtis Junior High basketball team and his junior high’s track team.

But by the time he got to high school, Ryun had found his sport — and his place in the record books.

Following his career as an athlete, Ryun went on to serve in Congress — from 1996-2006 — as a Republican from his home state of Kansas.

Ryun is scheduled to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor later this week.