Simone Biles, Megan RapinoeSet To Receive Medal Of Freedom... From President Biden

President Biden just announced that Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and soccer star Megan Rapinoe will be receiving the nation's highest civilian honor -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Commander-in-chief made the announcement on Friday ... revealing the two superstar athletes are among 17 names to receive the prestigious award later this month.

The White House said these individuals reflect what America embodies -- hard work, perseverance, and faith.

Biles -- on top of being the greatest gymnast of all time -- has been an outspoken advocate for mental health and sexual assault victims since becoming a household name.

Rapinoe -- an Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup winner -- has led the charge for the U.S. Women's National Team's fight for equal pay ... and is at the forefront of LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice.

Other notable names chosen are DenzelWashington, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, John McCain (posthumous), and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (posthumous).

Of course, #46 knows a thing or two about the honor ... in fact, President Obama surprised his VP with the Presidential Medal for his years of public service.

The White House prides itself on giving the award to individuals who've excelled in public or private endeavors ... but also played a role in cultivating a better country for all.

Other athletes who have received the honor include Jerry West, Tiger Woods, Lou Holtz and Roger Staubach.

The recipients will be presented with their awards at the White House on July 7.

Sha'Carri RichardsonMakes 'Kiss My Ass' Jab At Haters... After Worlds Elimination

BLOCKIN' OUT THE HATERS

"I would say 'kiss my ass,' but y'all can't afford it."

Sha'Carri Richardson gave an unfiltered message to all of her haters after failing to qualify for the world championships next month ... giving the double bird and vowing to return to dominance.

It all went down after the track star finished fifth with a time of 22.47 seconds at the 200-meter semifinals on Sunday in Eugene, Oregon ... which eliminated her from competing for Team USA at the 2022 World Athletics Championship.

The 22-year-old sprinter made sure to let her critics know she's blocking out all the negativity shortly after her disappointing outing ... and she didn't hold back.

"I normally don't be making video to post on here 'cause I really don't got nothing to explain to y'all," Richardson said on Instagram.

"But, to my supporters, I wanna thank y'all. It's been a long road. Ain't over yet. To my haters, I got another video for y'all."

Sha'Carri wasn't lying, because she posted a video laying on her back and spreading her legs ... basically telling all her haters they can "kiss my ass."

The critics weren't the only ones receiving the heat from Richardson ... she also went at the media about respecting athletes following her race.

"Be more understanding of the fact that they are still human, no matter just to the fact that y'all are just trying to get something to put out in an article to make a dollar. Thank you."

Of course, Richardson has been making headlines ever since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics controversy ... when she was banned for 30 days and missed the games after testing positive for marijuana.

Sha'Carri -- who was once considered the fastest woman in the country -- hasn't returned to dominance since ... but if we're taking her word for it, she'll be back.

Artistic Swimmer Anita AlvarezPasses Out In Pool During Event... Heroically Saved By Coach

An artistic swimmer nearly lost her life after passing out in the pool following an intense routine at a major event Wednesday ... but, thankfully, her coach quickly dove into the water and rescued her.

The terrifying scene went down at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary ... when American Anita Alvarez had just wrapped up a performance in the women's solo free event and suddenly fainted.

The photos from the pool are horrifying ... they show a lifeless Alvarez sinking to the bottom, clearly in danger of drowning.

Fortunately, her coach, Andrea Fuentes, immediately knew something was wrong ... and jumped in to save her.

Fuentes grabbed Alvarez, pulled her to the top ... and, according to U.S. Artistic Swimming officials, the 25-year-old swimmer is now expected to be OK despite the grim images.

PULLED FROM THE WATER
All Aquatics/Eurovision Sports

"Anita has been evaluated by medical staff and will continue to be monitored," the team said in a statement Thursday morning. "She is already feeling much better and using today to rest."

Fuentes, meanwhile, spoke about her heroic efforts to BBC on Thursday morning ... saying she had to rub Alvarez's face to get her to release the water she had taken into her lungs after collapsing in the pool.

"She was very tight on her jaw," Fuentes said. "So I tried to wake her up and massage the jaw because it was too tense. And then she coughed and threw up the water out."

Shockingly, this is not the first time Alvarez has needed Fuentes to rescue her ... the swimmer had a similar incident go down last year at an Olympic qualification event.

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U.S. Artistic Swim officials said there is now a chance Alvarez could still compete in Friday's team event.

They added they're "immensely thankful" to Fuentes for her "genuine love and urgency" in the horrifying moment at the pool.

WNBA Star Sue BirdI'm Retiring ...'This Will Be My Final Year'

Sue Bird -- a 4-time WNBA champion and star guard for the Seattle Storm -- says she's retiring ... announcing Thursday she's hanging up her sneakers for good at the end of this season.

"I’ve decided this will be my final year," said Bird, who shared a photo of her hoopin' as a youngster.

"I have loved every single minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year, just like this little girl played her first."

The 41-year-old, who was a 2-time NCAA champion at UConn, was picked #1 overall back in 2002 ... and has played every year since for the Storm.

In her 19 years in Seattle, she piled up 12 All-Star selections ... and became the WNBA's all-time assists leader as well as the league's all-time leader in starts.

Her retirement will mark truly the end of one of the greatest basketball careers ever -- as Bird is one of only six players ever to win an NCAA championship, a WNBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal.

WNBA season is slated to end in September ... congrats on an amazing run, Sue!

South Korea's Cho Min-hoOlympic Hockey Hero Dead At 35... After Battling Cancer

Sad news ... South Korean hockey player Cho Min-ho -- who scored the first-ever goal for the country's Olympic team in 2018 -- has passed away after battling cancer.

He was only 35.

The International Ice Hockey Federation confirmed Min-Ho's passing in a statement on Wednesday -- saying the forward died at a Seoul hospital after an eight-month battle with lung cancer.

"The Korean ice hockey family will remember him not only as a great player," IIHF officials said, "but also as a great human and leader on and off the ice."

Min-ho started playing for South Korea's national team in 2008 -- and became a hero during the PyeongChang Olympics.

Within the first few minutes of the team's preliminary round game against the Czech Republic, Min-ho scored ... making him the first-ever Korean player to hit the back of the net in Olympic men's ice hockey history.

In total, Min-ho competed in 11 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments ... and was named the team captain for the South Korean national team at the Final Olympic Qualification for the 2022 Olympics in 2021.

RIP.

Special Olympics7th Member Of Haiti's Delegation Missing In Florida

A seventh member of Haiti's Special Olympics delegation is now missing in Florida.

Just days after six Haitians -- who were in town to participate in a soccer competition at the 2022 Special Olympics Games -- disappeared in the Kissimmee area, the Osceola County Sheriff's Office announced that 25-year-old Louis Jacques Wilguens has vanished as well.

In a statement, the sheriff's office said Wilguens was last seen getting off a bus at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort in Lake Buena Vista on Saturday at around 4:30 PM.

Police say Wilguens was wearing blue jeans and a Special Olympics shirt with "Haiti" written on it, and had been scheduled to fly back to Haiti on Sunday, but apparently didn't make the flight.

Police are urging anyone who sees Wilguens to "check his well-being" and immediately get in touch with authorities.

Last week, police said the other 6 Haitians, whose ages range from 18-32, had disappeared after turning in their room keys and leaving behind their personal items. Police said at the time they did not suspect foul play.

The Sheriff's Office said in a statement they had been in communication with Walt Disney World and the Special Olympics over the disappearances.

Officials are asking anyone with information to contact the Osceola County Sheriff's Office at 321-697-4546.

Special Olympics6 Members Of Haiti's Delegation VanishPolice Launch Search In FL

Six Haitians who were in Florida for the Special Olympics this month have mysteriously vanished ... and now, an active search is underway to find them.

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office announced this week that Oriol Jean, 18, Anderson Petit-Frère, 18, Peter Mianovich Berlus, 19, Nicholson Fontilus, 20, Steevenson Jacquet, 24, and Antione Joseph Mithon, 32 all disappeared on June 6.

According to cops, the six -- members of Haiti's Special Olympics delegation who were competing in the soccer competition -- were last seen at around 2:30 PM in Kissimmee. All of them, police say, turned in their hotel room keys, left their personal belongings and then vanished.

The sheriff's office said it's now investigating it all as a "missing person's case."

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"We are in communication with Walt Disney World, Special Olympics, and our Law Enforcement and Federal partners," cops said in a statement. "At this time, we believe this is an isolated event and do not suspect foul play."

The Special Olympics event began on June 5 in the Orlando area and is slated to run through the end of this week. According to organizers, it's set to feature around 5,500 athletes and coaches -- with roughly 120,000 people expected to tune in at the venues.

One of the missing Haitian Olympians, Petit-Frère, wrote in a social media post just last week that he was excited for the event ... and called it an "honor" to be a part of the team.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Osceola County Sheriff's Office at 321-697-4546.

Simone Biles& Other Nassar Survivors ...Seeking $1 Billion From FBI

Simone Bilesand nearly 100 other women are going after the FBI ... seeking $1 billion from the org. after it allegedly mishandled its investigation into the sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.

Attorneys representing the Olympic gold medalist -- as well as gymnastics stars Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and approximately 90 other women -- announced Wednesday morning their intentions to file lawsuits against the FBI.

According to the women and their lawyers, if FBI agents had properly intervened when they were first alerted to Nassar's behavior in 2015, they could have prevented him from targeting more women. The women are now seeking damages that'll exceed $1 billion.

"My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us -- the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI and now the Department of Justice," Maroney said in a statement.

"I had some hope that they would keep their word and hold the FBI accountable after we poured out our hearts to the US Senate Judiciary Committee and begged for justice. It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process."

Nassar, who was eventually arrested over the allegations in 2016 and pled guilty in 2017, was ultimately sentenced to decades behind bars for his crimes.

In December, Biles and the other survivors reached a $380 million agreement to settle the lawsuits they had against the USA Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics.

John Manly, the gymnasts' attorney, said at the time the settlement was the result of bravery ... commending the women for refusing to stay silent.

The FBI has not yet publicly commented on Wednesday's news.

Olympian Nancy HogsheadFires Back At Trans Athlete Lia Thomas... 'it Isn't Fair'

THIS IS SCIENCE
TMZSports.com

Nancy Hogshead-Makar,3x Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer and civil rights attorney, wholeheartedly disagrees with Lia Thomas ... insisting trans athletes have a significant advantage over biological women.

Hogshead joined "TMZ Live"on Tuesday ... and addressed statements Thomas made earlier in the day when she joined Good Morning America for her first interview, telling Juju Chang ... "Trans women are not a threat to women's sport."

But, Nancy, who also runs a female advocacy organization called Champion Women, told Harvey and Charles that Lia is just wrong.

"After somebody has been through male puberty, you cannot roll that back. So, it isn't fair," the former Olympian said, citing several experts.

"We're hoping that we can get sports governing bodies and legislatures and others to care more about fairness than any other conclusion."

It's not that Nancy isn't supportive of Lia Thomas -- she says she is -- everywhere except the swimming pool.

"I affirm who [Lia] wants to be for all of her life. Whether it's employment, the classroom, or anyplace else. But when it comes to sports, sports is not based on identity. It is based on biology. That is why we have the women's sports category."

FYI, the UPenn swimmer, an NCAA champ in the 500m freestyle event, is done with college athletics after recently graduating. However, Lia isn't done competing ... she's made it clear she wishes to compete in the Summer Olympics in 2024.

And, Hogshead believes the future of women's sports is literally on the line.

"If sport is not based on sex segregation, and if gender identity equals sex discrimination, we might lose the right as woman athletes to be able to have separate sex sports."

That's something Nancy is intent on preventing from happening.

"I am not going to allow this generation of women to have to be gracious losers to somebody that has a biological advantage that you can't train for, you can't eat better, you can't find better coaching," Hogshead said.

"You can't outrun biology."

Cody SimpsonMakes Australian National Swim Team... Competing In Commonwealth Games

Cody Simpson can add elite swimmer to his already impressive accomplishments, 'cause the 25-year-old just earned a spot on the Australian swim team ... and will compete against some of the world's fastest in the pool at the Commonwealth Games.

Simpson -- musician, actor, and former teen heartthrob -- competed against his fellow countrymates down under on Wednesday ... finishing 3rd in the 100-meter butterfly at the Australian Championships.

And, no shame in finishing behind the first and second place athletes ... both guys are Olympians.

It's not a total shock that Cody performed as well as he did. In fact, as a teenager, Simpson was a top-level swimmer. However, after his music career took off and he became a bonafide celebrity, he took a big step back from the sport.

However, Simpson got the itch to swim again ... and rededicated himself to the craft about two years ago.

Fast forward until today ... and Simpson -- who recently dated Miley Cyrus -- will compete against over 70 other nations this summer.

The Commonwealth Games were first held in 1930, and in addition to swimming, also feature a bunch of other sports like archery, basketball, beach volleyball, hockey, rowing, and weight lifting, amongst others.

Simpson is clearly getting better in a hurry. During last year's Olympic trials, he swam the 100m butterfly in 52.94 seconds. He was nearly one second faster during Wednesday's finals.

Perhaps it shouldn't be too shocking that Cody's kicking ass -- he reportedly has Michael Phelps in his corner, coaching him up as he continues to make a splash in the swimming world.

Speaking of the man with 23 Olympic gold medals ... the 2024 Summer Games in Paris are quickly approaching.

At this rate, don't be surprised if the former star musician is racing for glory and the gold in less than two years.

Curling Legend Matt HamiltonChops Famous Locks For Charity!!!

Matt Hamilton's famous locks are no more -- the U.S. curling legend just chopped them off ... but, don't worry, he got the cut for a VERY good cause!!

TMZ Sports has learned ... Hamilton -- who won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics -- hit up a Great Clips salon in Madison, Wisc. on Friday in order to cut his luscious hair and donate it to kids who have experienced hair loss due to medical issues.

It's a sizeable donation from Hamilton ... considering Matt's had the long hair for FOUR years. And, we're told as of chopping time, it had reached over a foot in length!!

Hamilton also got the cut to help raise awareness and money for brain cancer research.

As for how the good deed turned out aesthetically ... check out the before and after -- Hamilton sure looks good to us!

Props to the 33-year-old for the awesome gesture ... and if anyone wants to follow in his generous footsteps, check out Hamilton's campaign.

Caeleb DresselSwim Logs Before Tokyo ...'F*** Me, F***ing Terrible'

Team USA swimming superstar, Caeleb Dressel, was truly down on himself just months before winning 5 gold medals at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo ... revealing the severely harsh criticism he wrote in his practice journals prior to trials.

The 25-year-old Olympic hero opened up about the dark side of his swimming experience on "In Depth With Graham Bensinger" this week ... listing off the negative reactions to workouts he wrote in his notebooks before trials.

"Yeah, F*** me, f***ing terrible. My body is done,'" Caeleb read from his log during the interview. "Oh jeez ... I know I'm laughing a little bit, but when you're writing this, this isn't as a joke. This is good information."

"'F*** me. F*** my body. F*** swimming,'" he continued. "Jeez. Yeah, there's a totally different side of the sport that a lot of people don't see ... I try to be as honest with myself as I can in these books, 'cause these aren't for -- well until now -- these aren't really for anybody else's eyes."

As it turns out, Caeleb has battled panic attacks and depression as a result of his swimming career ... including when he first became prominently known as one of the best in the country during his senior year of high school.

"I didn't want to do anything," Caeleb said. "Wasn't going to school, wasn't swimming. [I] was pretty much just laying in bed for all hours of the day, for a couple months."

Dressel went on to compete in two Olympic games -- racking up 7 golds.

Dressel speaking out on his struggles just goes to show mental health can affect anyone -- no matter how many medals you have.

Olympic Gold Medalist Chloe KimSnowboard Star Taking Season Off... To Focus On Mental Health

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim is taking a break from competitive snowboarding -- saying she needs time to "reset" and focus on her mental health.

Kim -- who started snowboarding at 4 years old -- is coming off a huge victory in the 2022 Winter Olympics ... winning a gold medal in the halfpipe event.

The 22-year-old says it was fun but exhausting ... and will take this season off to get herself right.

"I will be taking a full season off of competition just for my mental health," Kim said on Cheddar News last week.

"Just want to reset. Don't want to get right back into after such a fun but draining year at the same time."

This isn't the first time Kim has taken a break from boarding ... after winning the gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics, she took the following season off and went to Princeton University to study anthropology.

Kim says going to the prestigious school was "refreshing," and being around people who weren't snowboarders or athletes helped.

"It was nice to know I can make friends with people that weren't snowboarders or in the industry," she said. "It's just nice to have that separation and to get away from the thought of working."

Kim does plan on returning for the 2026 Games in Italy -- saying, "I just want to enjoy this moment, take it all in and then get back to it when I feel like I'm ready."

"As of now, the plan is most definitely to go after a third medal."

Besides the two Olympic gold medals, Kim is also a six-time X Games gold medalist and is the first to win the championship in all four major events (World, Olympic, Youth Olympic and X Games).

She also won three ESPY awards in 2018 for Best Female Athlete, Best Female Olympian and Best Female Action Sports Athlete.

U.S. Sled Hockey ParalympianThree Gold Medals Stolen From Car... Alleged Suspect Caught On Video

CAUGHT ON CAMERA

Paralympian Jen Lee's three Paralympic gold medals were stolen from his car over the weekend -- and JL asked for the public's help by sharing footage of the alleged thief in action.

And, it worked ... 'cause the medals have been found!

The incident happened Saturday when the U.S. hockey sled player says someone broke into his Tesla as it was parked in his San Antonio garage.

"First time for everything," Lee said via Instagram.

"Got my car broken into, and all my Paralympic gold medals stolen. Not 1, not two, but πŸ₯‡πŸ₯‡πŸ₯‡β˜ΉπŸ˜­"

The 35-year-old athlete shared surveillance video of the alleged suspect in action -- and you can see a man in a black Levi's shirt, shorts and tan cap walk up to Lee's vehicle.

He then started breaking into the back passenger side window with the help of a tool that he used to break the glass.

Once it shattered, the man is seen running off with Lee's "USA" backpack that contained his three gold medals from the 2014, 2018 and 2022 Winter Paralympics.

Lee -- whose left leg was amputated (above the knee) after a motorcycle crash in 2009 -- was the starting goalie in this year's games.

"Just want to share this as I’m seeking for help," Lee said, "and see how I can get my gold medals back."

Well, great news ... the medals were found at a local fire dept. station.

"The Officers were able to confirm that the three gold medals were the same medals that had been stolen a day prior and were in immediate contact with the victim - Jen Lee," a San Antonio PD rep told us on Monday.

"It is unknown who dropped off the medals at the fire station."

Despite Jason receiving his medals, SAPD says they're still actively investigating the alleged theft.

The suspect has not yet been identified.

Zach & Julie ErtzBaby Ertz On The Way!!!... 'Adding To Our Starting Lineup'

NFL tight end Zach Ertz and his wife, Julie, just shared some exciting news on Monday -- the married couple is having a baby!!

The Arizona Cardinals and USWNT stars dropped the news on Instagram ... with the two posting photos of Julie's baby bump, and Zach kissing her growing tummy.

"Adding to our starting lineup ... Baby Ertz!" Zach captioned the pics.

The 10-year NFL veteran has been with the U.S. women's national team defender for nearly a decade ... and tied the knot in March 2017.

Of course, Julie was there to celebrate with Zach after Super Bowl LVII, which he won as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Ertz had one of the key plays in the game when he caught what proved to be the go-ahead touchdown from Nick Foles ... propelling Philly over New England in the end.

Julie is a star in her own right -- the two-time Olympian and one-time Olympic gold medalist is one of the most decorated in her position.

Although the baby isn't here yet, having a football and soccer star as parents means the sky is the limit when it comes to sports ... if that's what the youngin' is into, of course.

Congrats!!

Hope SoloArrested For DWI, Child Abuse... Busted W/ 2 Kids In Car

UPDATE

10:40 AM PT -- Rich Nichols, counsel for Hope Solo, tells TMZ Sports ... "On the advice of counsel, Hope can't speak about this situation, but she wants everyone to know that her kids are her life, that she was released immediately and is now at home with her family, that the story is more sympathetic than the initial charges suggest, and that she looks forward to her opportunity to defend these charges."

Hope Solo, U.S. soccer legend, was arrested Thursday in North Carolina for driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest ... and cops say her two children were in the car when she was busted.

The 40-year-old retired goalkeeper -- a 2x Olympic gold medalist and World Cup winner -- was taken into custody in a Walmart parking lot off Parkway Village Circle in Winston-Salem, North Carolina ... and was taken to the Forsyth County jail for processing.

Officials tell us Solo was booked for impaired driving (DWI), resisting arrest, and misdemeanor child abuse.

It's not the first time Hope, who was arguably the best goalkeeper in the world during her time with the USWNT, has been in trouble with the law.

Solo has previously been arrested for domestic violence. She was accused of berating a police officer in 2014, and threatening to "kick his ass." She was also busted for allegedly getting into a physical confrontation with her teenage nephew.

Solo is married to ex-NFL player Jerramy Stevens. Hope and JS have two young kids together, twins, who just celebrated their 2nd birthday. It's unclear if the kids in the car were Jerramy's ... but it seems likely.

If Solo is ultimately convicted, she could face time behind bars.

Originally Published -- 10:01 AM PT

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