Greg LeMond has officially received his Congressional Gold Medal.
The 59-year-old Californian received the award after President Donald Trump signed the bill Friday. LeMond has now become the first American cyclist and 10th athlete to win the honor in an individual manner. Some 450 or so athletes on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal after the U.S. pulled out of the 1980 games, according to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The award is regarded as the highest civilian accolade in the U.S.
Having won three Tours de France in 1986, 1989, and 1990 and twice taken the world championships, the Congressional Medal makes for a notable addition to LeMond’s brimming trophy cabinet. The award is reserved for those “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.”
“Throughout his career, Greg repeatedly exemplified the principles of healthy competition, honesty, and selflessness, putting team success ahead of his own,” said Mike Thompson, U.S. representative for California. “In retirement, he’s dedicated his life to serving and supporting children, veterans, medical research and other causes through his charitable work,”
LeMond has been expecting to receive the award for 12 months now after the bill was first submitted by Thompson last November. The bill was then subject to being passed by the U.S. Senate and was finally signed off by President Trump on Friday.
“It might be one of the best biggest honors for my career,” LeMond told VeloNews when he learned of his achievement last year. “For sure it is because it’s something that’s not given out to cyclists ever. And it’s a very small list of people who have actually received a Congressional Medal of Honor, and so I’m flattered, really flattered.”
The list of recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal includes George Washington, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and activist Rosa Parks. Other athletes to have received the honor include groundbreaking baseball players Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, and multiple Olympic champion track and field athlete Jesse Owens.
“Lots of people know of Greg’s outstanding athletic achievements, of which there are many, but I’m most proud of my brother for standing up for what is right, fair, and honest,” said LeMond’s sister, Karen Melarkey.
“Shunned by many for being an outspoken anti-doping cyclist, he stood up to bullies and press at a difficult time in his life. He has overcome many obstacles on and off the road, and I cannot think of anyone who deserves the award more than my brother.”
LeMond is currently working on the launch of a range of carbon bikes via his LeMond Companies, LLC operation.