Greg LeMond becomes first cyclist to receive Congressional Gold Medal

LeMond becomes only the 10th athlete to win the highest civilian award in the USA

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Greg LeMond has become the first cyclist and only 10th athlete to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, regarded as the highest award for American civilians.

The award is 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," with LeMond winning three Tours de France between 1986-1990 and becoming world champion twice. Since retiring, the 59-year-old has also completed charity work to help children, veterans and medical research.

The Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded to the likes of former President George Washington, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Rosa Parks, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King Jr.

"I keep going, 'Why me?'" LeMond told the Wall Street Journal, expressing shock. "I don't even know what to say It's humbling to even be considered.

>>> Five killed, four injured after truck hits group of cyclists on ‘retirement ride’

"I always think that something like this is for people who are saving lives, or inventing cures for new diseases. I'm really honoured, but at the same time, I don't take getting awards really well. I always feel like there are other deserving people," he continued.

"I didn't ever expect recognition when I started racing. I just really had a blast. I mean, I was pretty good at it, and it was a whole new world for me. But this? I look at the list of the medal winners and I'm going, 'I'm in really, really good company.'"

"Throughout his career, Greg repeatedly exemplified the principles of healthy competition, honesty, and selflessness, putting team success ahead of his own," added the US representative for California, Mike Thompson. "In retirement, he’s dedicated his life to serving and supporting children, veterans, medical research and other causes through his charitable work."