Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Former Jayhawk Jim Ryun to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Kansas runner Jim Ryun, left, attempts to pass Missouri’s Glenn Ogden in this file photo. Ryun was the first high schooler to run a sub-four-minute mile. The distance isn’t run often at the high school level anymore.

Kansas runner Jim Ryun, left, attempts to pass Missouri’s Glenn Ogden in this file photo. Ryun was the first high schooler to run a sub-four-minute mile. The distance isn’t run often at the high school level anymore.


President Donald Trump is awarding the nation’s highest civilian honor to Jim Ryun, a former Kansas congressman who was the first high school runner to clock a mile in under 4 minutes.

Trump is scheduled to honor the three-time Olympian and legendary University of Kansas distance runner with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Friday.

The Wichita native entered the record books in 1964 at age 17 by becoming the first high school runner to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile with a time of 3 minutes, 59 seconds.

Ryun, now 73, went on to compete in three Olympic Games, winning a silver medal in 1968 in Mexico City. He later served 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The White House said Ryun is one of the most accomplished American runners.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors, the White House said.

During his time at KU, Ryun broke several school and world records during what many considered to be the hey day of track and field at KU.

As a freshman, Ryun set his first world record in the 880-yard run with a time of 1:44.9, and in July of 1966, he ran the mile in 3:51.3, topping Michael Jazy’s world record by 2.3 seconds.

He was named the youngest Sportsman of the Year by Sports illustrated in 1966 and won the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete.

In 1967, Ryun outdid his own mile record by running 3:51.1. He also added world records in the 1,500 meters (3:33.1), indoor half-mile (1:48.3) and also anchored KU’s sprint medley relay team to a world record of 3:15.2.

Ryun was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1977, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1980 and the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2003.


Gavin Fritton 2 years, 2 months ago

I've always wondered, how does the Journal-World stylistically address whether someone is a current or "former" Jayhawk? I'm not trying to nitpick, I'm genuinely curious. Because I think of Ryun as "a Jayhawk," not "a former Jayhawk." Same with Danny Manning and Todd Reesing. I understand that he no longer attends school, but is that the demarcation of "current" versus "former?" If Danny Manning were to return to coaching at KU, would he be a Jayhawk?

Sorry if this sounds nitpicky. I really don't mean it that way. I graduated decades ago and I still think of myself a a Jayhawk, just not one who attends classes. Should I adjust my thinking and start saying that I used to be one?

Buck Bukaty 2 years, 2 months ago

Charlie Munger: "If you're not confused, I don't think you understand".

Don't feel bad. I took a Western Civilization course once. It was all Greek to me.

Way to go, Mr. Ryun!!! Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk!!!

Dane Pratt 2 years, 2 months ago

Seems like an award long overdue.

I gonna guess the LJW uses the AP Style Guide and that's how they designate athletes who are no longer participating at their Alma Mater. Not just KU but any college. I too don't like former to precede Jayhawk but how else would you word it.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 2 months ago

If it’s an award from Captain Covid, then it’s suspect. Just a play for the evangelical right.

Ryun was an unbelievably accomplished talent as a runner. Beyond that, he’s just a religious zealot willing to sell his soul to evil so that he can get some attention.

Chris Bailey 2 years, 2 months ago

Really? Can you leave your politics out of this? No one cares what you think.

Kyle Neuer 2 years, 2 months ago

He's getting this "award" from Ill Douche'. That, immediately, injects politics into this mess.

Chris Bailey 2 years, 2 months ago

No it doesn't. You leftist just crack me up. I am a conservative but if I received the presidential medal of freedom from Obama or another democrat president or just were lucky enough to meet them I would jump at that chance. It's the friggin president! Respect the office, period. This divisive crap has gotta stop at some point or this country is going to end up in another Civil War. I truly fear that. And it's people like you who are pushing us toward that. Don't like someone's politics? Fine. Keep it to yourself. Like I said before let's leave politics out of this and ALL sports.

Stephen Johnson 2 years, 2 months ago

Seriously dude - leave your religious dogma out of this. Captain Political

Trace Stark 2 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations to Congressman Ryun, a truly great Jayhawk athlete. What a shame the Medal was tarnished greatly with the Limbaugh nomination/award. Pandering in motion...

Bret Eckert 2 years, 2 months ago

mccabe, Once again you ruin a great thing with your hateful Comments. Have you ever meet Mr. Ryan? I coached his boys in HS. A wonderful father who supported his kids 100%. One would be hard pressed to find a better man. So please for the love of everything Jayhawk, get off this sight. You create a stain for every positive story that is written on And if I didn't respect Mr. Ryan so much I would say many more hateful things about you. Oh and stop spelling your name incorrectly. Wait, keep it up. I want to be different from a person who is just so angry at the world.

Gavin Fritton 2 years, 2 months ago

Do you respect him enough to know that his name is spelled "Ryun?"

Bret Eckert 2 years, 2 months ago

Did you read the sentence where I said "I coached his boys in HS"? Inside Team moment.

Gavin Fritton 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes. Which is why I thought it was even more weird that you didn't spell his name correctly since the guy you were calling out got it right.

Chris Bailey 2 years, 2 months ago

The only way Brett's comment got a thumbs up is from himself. What a DBAG

Dan Spurgin 2 years, 2 months ago

In Brett McCabe's defense, Ryun has spent a lifetime after running injecting faith & politics. Seems like you'd be sticking your heads in the sand at this point to only think of him as someone who ran for the Jayhawks. I personally only heard him speak once, at a local dog-days session, and was quite disappointed to get a religious lecture. Ironically he didn't talk about running.

Dennis Strick 2 years, 2 months ago

Matt Tait. Thanks for getting on the story so quickly. Brett M, As wise sherrif Andy Griffith used to say "You Beat All". Mr. Ryun is a great Jayhawk, a great Kansan, and a great American. He is very deserving of this really cool honor no matter who the President is. Congrats Mr. Ryun.

Chris Bailey 2 years, 2 months ago

Most definitely and I don't care who holds the office meeting the president would be an honor. Truly, a once in a lifetime experience.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 2 months ago

Haters hate.

Quitters quit.

Brett is Bret.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 2 months ago

Fortunately, there are noble people in this world like Jim Ryun. He came over to our house for dinner with a bunch of college guys and we didn’t talk about running much though some of us were runners. There’s more to life than sports. It was great to meet him. Glad he chose to serve our country.

Bret Eckert 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks I hope. Don't want to be put into that group.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 2 months ago

You can always tell what side of the aisle one resides on by the request to leave politics out of the discussion. Republicans/Conservatives don't mind it if you're bashing the left and Democrats/Liberals don't mind if you're bashing the right. Personally, I don't mind the injection of politics into these conversations but they are almost never relevant to the story.

Chris Bailey 2 years, 2 months ago

Dane. No that's not always true. Truly, if I were given the opportunity to meet the sitting president at any time during my life it would be a great honor. It shouldn't matter which party they follow. No matter my political stance I still know that the man that resides at the White House is the president and I will respect that. You are correct in saying some don't view it that way but I can say without hesitation I would be honored. To be quite frank, if we dropped party labels from presidents and just let them run for what the truly believed our political system would be much less corrupt and we''d most likely have a better representation of the country as a whole. Just my two cents. Either way very excited for any Jayhawk that meets a sitting president.

Titus Canby 2 years, 2 months ago

Jim Ryun was one of my heroes growing up, and an inspiration to me as a runner. I'll never forget watching the '68 Olympics when my Mom called us all inside to watch the race, and our disappointment when he took 2nd to Kip Keino.

Ryun was a Stud with a capital "S." His 3:51.1 world record in the mile stood for a LONG time.

Congratulations Mr. Ryun. You should be proud of ALL your accomplishments. I bet Bob Timmons, even in his grave, is beaming with pride.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 2 months ago

Jim Ryun, Billy Mills, Glenn Cunningham, Al Oerter, Maurice Greene (?), 6 national titles, Kansas Relays. Not as good as we once were but we’ve got a pretty good track and field pedigree.

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