Kansas Jayhawks legend Jim Ryun was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States.
Jim Ryun could easily be considered one of the greatest American runners of all time. He was the first high schooler to break the four-minute mile and served as a Kansas representative in congress from 1996 through 2007. Ryun also won four NCAA championships in the one-mile race while running for the Kansas Jayhawks.
Ryun’s career story is extremely compelling. He was originally cut by his junior high basketball team, and he didn’t make his junior high track and field team either. He would go on to have a legendary career at Wichita East, including the major accomplishments of being the youngest Olympian in American history at just 17 years old and winning the 1965 AAU championship in the one-mile race.
Attending Kansas, Ryun set many records as a Jayhawk. He also got his education, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in photojournalism. He would compete in the Olympics two more times during his career, winning the 1500 silver medal in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
In 1996, Ryun entered politics by running for the House of Representatives as a Kansas Republican and winning the election. He’d continue to be elected until 2007. Now, Ryun has been presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.
Ryun received the award from President Trump, who called him a “legendary runner” and “true American patriot.” Ryun reflected on representing the United States during his three Olympic games, saying: ” I will tell you, it is one of the greatest honors and privileges of my life to represent this amazing country and to wear the stars and stripes on my chest while racing in the 60s and 70s.”
Jim Ryun is certainly one of the greatest Jayhawks of all time, and being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom definitely puts him in a class of his own.