Simone Byers and Megan Rapinoe, two of America’s finest athletes and trailblazers for women in sports, will now receive the nation’s highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The two sports stars are among 17 people to be awarded the honor on July 7, the White House announced Friday.
“Simone Byers is the most accomplished gymnast in U.S. history, with a total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. Byers is also a standout for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in foster care and victims of sexual assault advocate,” the White House statement read.
“Meghan Rapinoe is an Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion. She also captains the OL Reign team in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is an outstanding advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQI+ rights.”
Byers has retweeted multiple articles about the news, and Rapinoe has yet to acknowledge it on social media, but she will change her schedule to accommodate.
The Washington Post’s Steven Goff reports that she will miss the U.S. national team’s second World Cup qualifier, next Thursday’s game against Jamaica in Mexico. She is the first football player to receive this honor.
Congressman Gabriel Giffords, actor Denzel Washington, civil rights leader Fred Gray, as well as late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Senator John McCain are among the recipients of the award next week. One of the other citizens of that honor.