In his short time as a Republican congressman from North Carolina, Madison Cawthorn has really distinguished himself as an incomprehensibly craven liar, with little competence for anything other than self-promotion. He has already seemingly broken a very serious law by bringing firearms into the House chamber. Cawthorn has repeatedly gone on television and spouted the easiest-to-verify lies. He’s called the COVID-19 pandemic “overblown.” In the face of an armed insurrection at the Capitol building, Cawthorn still tried to have millions of Americans’ votes thrown out. While he was running for office, he set up and curated a wickedly racist website. He did it anonymously because, at heart, Cawthorn is a coward like the rest of his bigoted ilk.
The Citizen Times has already exposed Cawthorn’s self-mythologizing lies about being on the way to training at the U.S. Naval Academy before the injury that left him paralyzed ended that dream. “Cawthorn admitted his application to the academy had already been rejected before the crash.” Now The Nation has an even more depressing tale of how disrespectful some of Cawthorn’s self-absorbed bullshit is—specifically, his claims of training for the 2020 Paralympic Games. The Nation spoke with Paralympian Amanda McGrory, who said that Cawthorn’s claims of “training” might be true, but not for the Paralympics. “It’s like a kid saying they want to play in the NBA when they’re on their fourth-grade basketball team.”
McGrory has been to the Paralympic Games three times and won seven medals and is also “the archivist and collections curator for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.” She explains that Cawthorn’s statement that he “had an opportunity for the Paralympics for track and field,” aren’t simply misleading, they’re a lie. Like all sports, especially elite athletic competition, “You have to be involved in a team, usually your college or a local club. And then from there, you establish times at qualifying races, and then from there you get scouted.” Cawthorn dropped out of college after one semester.
Former wheelchair marathoner Robert Kozarek says the wheelchair community vying to compate in the track and field Paralympics is very small, and anyone involved in trying to qualify or be scouted for elite competition would see one another numerous times a year. Guess who Kozarek never met? That’s right, David Madison Cawthorn. The lying is even more pathological than that—including the fact that Cawthorn’s name isn’t even registered on the publicly available international World Para Athletics list.
But the reason Cawthorn is being called out for this is not because he made mention of it a few times. He actively created a lie for years. As Paralympian Brian Siemann told The Nation, Cawthorn’s only real connection to the Paralympics was that his social media accounts were considered entertaining and bizarre to actual paralympians. “[My teammates and I] would share whatever posts [Cawthorn] put up and be like, ‘Look at what batshit thing he said about the Paralympics this week … The claims he was making were just so absurd, you have to find some humor in it.”
But as Siemann explained, the frustrating part of all of this is that Cawthorn is simply using people’s general ignorance about elite athletics (and more specifically the Paralympic movement) to con people into thinking he’s doing the kind of hard work it takes to be an elite athlete. He isn’t. He hasn’t. He won’t.
According to the exposé, Cawthorn’s social media posts are filled with completely made-up mentions of “qualifiers” and races that do not exist. The only identifiable race, according to the article, is one in Atlanta called the Peachtree Road Race. Siemann explains that part of what makes this pathetic is that one, Cawthorn lies about the nature of the race; two, he lies about his involvement in the race; and three, he excludes the single most-important aspect of the race: the partnership between the race and the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta.
The event itself is not a qualifier race for anything. Some of the elite Parlaympic athletes from all around the world attend it, but it is a relaxed race, not a competition for international placements.
Halfway through the Peachtree Road Race, after what Siemann called “Cardiac Hill,” the route passes the Shepherd Center. “What’s really cool is [Shepherd Center staff] bring a bunch of younger patients to cheer you on. It’s a great opportunity for them to see what’s possible if you work hard and train,” Siemann said.
Madison Cawthorn’s narcissistic lying is a slap in the face to the thousands of athletes around the world working hard and making the kinds of sacrifices it takes to achieve elite competitive success. It would be one thing if Cawthorn began at one point to “train” and spoke about it. It is an entirely other thing to continue to generate lies that demean hard-working Americans, all in the service of filling the giant ego-sized hole in one’s soul.