The Nation reports that Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a freshman Republican congressman from North Carolina, offered misleading statements about training for the 2020 Paralympic Games, adding one more note of dishonesty to a growing list regarding Cawthorn’s biography.
Cawthorn became disabled after a 2014 car crash left him paralyzed from the waist down. By Cawthorn’s own telling, he was a successful business owner headed to the Naval Academy before his injury tragically reordered his life.
As it turns out, neither claim is true. The Asheville Watchdog reported that Cawthorn had already been rejected from the Naval Academy before his accident. And Cawthorn’s real-estate investment firm, SPQR Holdings LLC, which he only formed in August 2019, reported no income on its tax documents, and Cawthorn was the sole employee.
“Multiple outlets reported that before he ran for office, Cawthorn was training for the 2020 Paralympic Games,” the outlet reported. “There is little detail, but according to Micah Bock, Cawthorn’s campaign communications director, he intended to compete in the 400-meter dash at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.”
It would have been an incredible footnote in a politician’s biography: Paralympians are celebrated and accomplished athletes. But his hopes for the Paralympic Games, now slated for summer 2021, were allegedly dashed by his worsening disability.
Cawthorn frequently said on social media that he was “training” for the Paralympic Games. Technically, such a statement could be true—but only in the sense that I could be training for the Olympic Games.
“It’s like a kid saying they want to play in the NBA when they’re on their fourth-grade basketball team,” said Amanda McGrory, a three-time Paralympian who has earned seven medals in track and field. Cawthorn stated on the Christian inspirational podcast The Heal, “I had an opportunity for the Paralympics for track and field.” He did not have that opportunity, nor does it appear he took any meaningful steps that would have led him there.
The report continues with an explanation from McGrory, who also is the archivist and collections curator for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
She told me: “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.” Patrick Henry College, which Cawthorn attended for a semester before dropping out, doesn’t have a disabled sports program.
In addition to not being on a team, Cawthorn does not appear to have competed in any qualifying races.
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