U.S. gymnast Simone Biles and soccer player Megan Rapinoe are receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Friday. The two athletes are among 17 individuals who will receive the nation's highest civilian honor at the White House on July 7.
Per the White House release, each of them were selected by President Joe Biden for embodying three key elements of the soul of the nation in "hard work, perseverance, and faith."
"They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come," read the statement.
Biles has become the most decorated American gymnast in the history of the sport, earning a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. The 25-year-old is also known to be a strong advocate for athletes' mental health, children in the foster care system and victims of sexual assault.
Rapinoe's accomplishments on the pitch include two Women's World Cup trophies in 2015 and 2019, as well as the 2012 Olympic gold medal. The 36-year-old midfielder is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQIA+ rights. Rapinoe will miss a USWNT World Cup and Olympic qualifying match against Jamaica in Concacaf W Championship competition to attend the ceremony.
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The other recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the ceremony include actor Denzel Washington, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and Sandra Lindsay, a New York critical care nurse and the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials. There will also be some individuals receiving the honor posthumously, including former U.S. Senator John McCain and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.