KU Track Legend Ryun Honored as Kansan of the Year
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former Kansas track athlete Jim Ryun was named Kansan of the Year last Wednesday by the Kansas Society at a ceremony in the nation’s capital. Ryun, who ran at KU from 1966-69, was honored not only for his well-deserved accolades for his athletic accomplishments and public service, but also for being an outstanding alumnus of Kansas public education.
Ryun first achieved national acclaim as a track and field star at Wichita East High School, where he was the first high school athlete to run the mile in under four minutes and set a male high school mile record that stood for 36 years. To this day, he holds five of the six fastest mile times in U.S. high school history. After his junior year at Wichita East he qualified for the 1964 Summer Olympics in the 1,500 meters.
While attending the University of Kansas, Ryun was the 1967 NCAA outdoor mile champion and the NCAA indoor mile champion in 1967, 1968 and 1969. His 1969 mile win helped the Jayhawks claim the NCAA indoor track championship that year. Ryun went on to compete in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Summer Olympics and won the silver medal in the 1,500 meters at the 1968 games in Mexico City
After his athletic career ended, Ryun was elected to Congress as a Representative from Kansas and served from 1996 until 2007. During his time in Congress, Ryun served on the Armed Services, Budget and Financial Service committees.
The Kansas Society brings together Kansans who live and work in and around the Washington, D.C., area to celebrate their state ties. Each year, along with the Kansas Congressional Delegation, the group gathers to honor a distinguished Kansan who exemplifies the qualities that reflect the state of Kansas. The honor has been given to a range of prominent Kansans in politics, the military, the arts, sports and business. Previous honorees include Senator Bob Dole, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, television journalists Bill Kurtis and Jim Lehrer, businessman David Dillon, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder and baseball great George Brett.
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