Simone Biles now has yet another medal to add to her extensive collection. Among her 32 Olympic and World Championship medals now sits a Presidential Medal of Freedom, gifted to her by President Joe Biden on Thursday.
According to The White House, the medal is “presented 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.” In addition to Biles, this year’s honorees include Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington (who had to skip the award ceremony due to a case of COVID-19 according to CNN), and Fred Gray, who served as an attorney to both Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Biles was all smiles during the ceremony, visibly elated to receive such a high honor. At just 25 years old, she is also now the youngest-ever recipient of the medal.
“I’m so honored and thankful to be recognized as a recipient by President Biden for this prestigious award.” Biles wrote on Instagram. “I still have no words. I’m shocked!”
In addition to nearly effortlessly winning a total of 8 Olympic medals on behalf of the United States, Biles has used her platform to advocate for mental health awareness and bravely fight for justice on behalf of herself and her fellow young female athletes in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal that plagued the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.
During his remarks, Biden described Biles as “a trailblazer and a role model.”
“When we see her compete, we see unmatched, unmatched power and determination, grace and daring,” he continued. “When she stands on the podium, we see what she is — absolute courage to turn personal pain into greater purpose; to stand up and speak for those who cannot stand for themselves. Today, she adds to her medal count of 32 — how are you going to find room?”
On hand to support Biles was her fianceé, Houston Texans safety Jonathan Owens. He offered some sweet words to his bride-to-be on her big day at The White House.
“Words can’t explain how proud I am of you,” Owens wrote to Biles on Instagram. “You’re one of the strongest people I know and are so deserving. I’m so blessed to be able to experience this with you. You motivate me more every day to be the best version of myself. Such [an] inspiration.”