another medal for simone

Texas gymnastics superstar Simone Biles receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Texas gymnast Simone Biles receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

Simone Biles, Presidential medal of freedom, Joe Biden
Simone Biles receives the prestigious medal from President Joe Biden at the White House on July 7.  Alex Wong/Getty Images
Simone Biles, medal of freedom
Biden joked that he didn't know where she was going to find room for her 33rd medal. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Simone Biles Wheaties box
Biles is currently on the cover of the iconic Wheaties box. Wheaties/Twitter
Simone Biles, Olympic trials
Biles championed for mental health after "the twisties" took her out of Olympic competition last year. Getty Images
Simone Biles, Gymnastics Championships
Biles won her record seventh national championship in Fort Worth in 2021. Getty Images
Simone Biles, McKayla Moroney, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols, gymnasts senate hearing
Biles and former teammates testified before Congress about their sexual abuse while representing Team USA. Getty Images
Simone Biles Athleta Girls
Biles launched a female-empowering line of clothing with Athleta. Athleta/Pinterest
Simone Biles
Biles was the headliner of the "Gold Over America Tour," which came to Fort Worth in fall of 2021. Simone Biles/Facebook
Simone Biles Time Magazine Athlete of the Year
Biles was Time magazine's Athlete of the Year. Time/Facebook
Simone Biles, Presidential medal of freedom, Joe Biden
Simone Biles, medal of freedom
Simone Biles Wheaties box
Simone Biles, Olympic trials
Simone Biles, Gymnastics Championships
Simone Biles, McKayla Moroney, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols, gymnasts senate hearing
Simone Biles Athleta Girls
Simone Biles
Simone Biles Time Magazine Athlete of the Year

Gymnastics Greatest of All Time Simone Biles added another medal to her count: The Texas superstar received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden at the White House on July 7.

She was one of 17 Americans to receive the award, considered the highest civilian honor in the nation.

Joining Biles on the prestigious list was fellow Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe. Other distinguished recipients included Steve Jobs, Senator John McCain (accepted by his widow, Cindy McCain), and Denzel Washington (who had tested positive for COVID and was unable to attend in person). 

The award is given to “individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” noted a release from the White House ahead of the ceremony. Biden, in the statement, added that the 17 recipients also “demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation — hard work, perseverance, and faith.”

At age 25, Biles became the youngest person ever to receive the Medal of Freedom, Biden noted at the ceremony. (She also shatters Tiger Woods’ record as the youngest athlete to receive the honor. He was 43 when he received the award in 2019.)

Medals, of course, are nothing new to Biles, given that the most decorated American gymnast in history boasts 32 of the Olympic and world varieties. 

"Today, she adds to her medal count of 32," Biden said, turning to her and joking, "I don't know where you're gonna find room."

Before awarding her medal, Biden said of Biles, "Everyone stops everything every time she's on camera just to watch. When we see her compete, we see unmatched power and determination, grace, and daring. A trailblazer and a role model, when she stands on the podium, we see what she is — absolute courage, who turned personal pain into greater purpose to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves."

Outside the competitive arena, the Houston-area resident has been a fierce advocate for mental health and sexual abuse victims. After winning a record seventh U.S. national championship in Fort Worth in June 2021, she earned a bronze medal on balance beam despite her Summer Olympics struggle with "the twisties" and headlined a "Gold Over America Tour" with her Olympic teammates. She also launched a female-empowering clothing line with athleisure band Athleta. 

Biles was recently named Time Magazine’s Athlete of the Year and currently appears on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box as part of the brand's "Century Collection." 

Before Biden draped and clasped the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Biles' neck, a military aide read a citation that said:

Overcoming great odds, Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history. A former foster child who became a once-in-a-generation athlete, transforming her sport with artistry and degrees of difficulty that we imagine what is possible. With absolute courage and honesty, she expands the legacy of our greatest champions who challenge the powerful and speak up for justice and the wellness of body and mind. Leaning on faith in God, and family, Simone Biles is an inspiring symbol of strength, grace, and pride in those three letters: U.S.A.

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Stephanie Allmon Merry contributed to this story.