Simone Biles, Denzel Washington, Megan Rapinoe among winners of top US honor
Simone Biles competing on the vault at the 2016 P&G Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis, Missouri Dilip Vishwanat NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Gymnastics star Simone Biles, actor Denzel Washington and the late tech visionary Steve Jobs have been named as recipients of America's highest civilian honor, the White House said Friday.

President Joe Biden designated 17 Americans to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, three of them posthumous.

The White House said the medal recognizes "exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors."

Among the recipients is Megan Rapinoe, the Olympic gold medalist soccer star, two-time Women's World Cup champion and outspoken advocate on equality, race and LGBTQ issues.

Ahead of a ceremony on July 7, the White House said those honored had "overcome significant obstacles... and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities -- and across the world -- while blazing trails for generations to come."

One posthumous recipient this year is John McCain, a one-time Republican presidential nominee, long-time senator from Arizona, and Vietnam War veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart.

Previous winners of the presidential medal include the basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Motown singer Diana Ross and the actor Robert De Niro.

© 2022 AFP