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Rob Morris

CLASS ACTS: Maddie Madory Brings Home the Gold

Aug 11, 2018

I am brave
I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be
This is me.

 “This Is Me” lyrics from “The Greatest Showman”


Don’t let her diminutive 94-pound frame confuse you: Madison Madory knows exactly who she is meant to be: a powerlifter. And like the characters in the movie, “The Greatest Showman”, Madison has stepped into the bright lights and onto the biggest stage of her young life, the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. There was no stage fright in the spotlight for Madison. She delivered a stunning performance, bringing home four medals, two of them gold.


Madison’s mom and coach, Angela Madory, says it was amazing watching people as they met Madison and discovered her athletic specialty for themselves.


“It’s always so funny because people will see the medals and expect that she’s a gymnast or something like that,” said Angela. “They are genuinely shocked when they find out she’s a powerlifter.”


For Madison, the attraction to powerlifting is really simple.


“I really like doing this,” said Madison, “And I’m going to try and get stronger and just keep competing.”


Angela says her daughter is remarkably self-motivated to succeed and works hard in the gym on her strength and technique. But she also notes that Madison’s motivation shows up in ways that go far beyond workouts.


“She’s very disciplined with her diet,” said Angela. “She has to maintain her weight very carefully, so she eats a lot of salads and drinks a lot of water. She even gets on me about what I eat at home.”


Madison normally competes in the 97-pound weight class. That means she likes to keep her weight right around 95-pounds to give herself a little bit of a buffer. But Angela says that just before the Special Olympics USA games they received a call from her national team coach telling her that the weight class for the upcoming games would be 95-pounds instead of 97-pounds.


“Madison went to work,” said Angela. “She was determined to get down past 94-pounds and still be strong enough to compete in Seattle.”


It’s not that Madison doesn’t like the foods that are off her training menu. Her favorite food is Mexican and she loves burgers. But her desire to be a champion burns a lot hotter than it does enjoy those foods.


“I take the buns off when I have a burger,” said Madison. “Also, no cheese, no sodas, and no sweets.”


Of course, after the powerlifting competition was over Angela says Madison was willing to cut loose and live a little bit at the dinner table. Still, being the disciplined young lady she was, Madison didn’t go completely crazy.


“I had a burger, no bun and no cheese, some chicken, and some mini-corn dogs,” said Madison.


The powerlifting competition at the 2018 Special Olympics USA games took place on the first day of the week. Competitors participate in three categories: bench press, squat, and deadlift. Madison won golds in her weight category in the bench press (lifting 80 pounds), the squat (88 pounds) and a bronze in the deadlift (90 pounds). She also won the silver medal for best all-around performance. The irony of it all is that the bench press and squat aren’t her strongest events.


“It’s funny that she won the bronze in the deadlift and that’s her strongest event,” said Angela. “The problem wasn’t the weight she lifted, it was a technique issue. She couldn’t get her right shoulder parallel and they are extremely strict on the judging, so she ended up with the bronze.”


Powerlifters at the Special Olympics are judged by the same standards as any other competitive powerlifter. Those standards are governed by the International Federation of PowerLifting, which has a 36-page rulebook that covers everything from what kind of equipment is used, to what you are allowed to wear, to the fine details of technique.


“Competing at this level is really challenging,” said Angela. “These athletes have to have the same perfect form as any other competitor in the world and that makes what Madison and the others do here remarkable.”


It is Madison’s competitiveness and disciplined nature that Angela hopes will help people set aside any misconceptions they might have about Special Olympians. Both Madison and Angela saw what they believe the world should be like for these remarkable athletes in the days after her medal-winning performances.


“It’s nice when people in your local community recognize what these athletes do,” said Angela. “But for us to be a part of something this big and realize that she’s being recognized by people from all across the country was amazing. This is the kind of thing we’ve always wanted for Madison and all of these kids from the beginning: that they’re accepted and celebrated for who they are and what they’ve accomplished, just like any other person.”


For Madison, the joy of competing and being recognized for her strength and determination was great. But she also takes home some great memories beyond the competition.


“I got to meet people from all over the place and got to know some friends from Mississippi,” said Madison, “I got to hear (New Zealand singing star) Charlie Puth perform and I got to hear Keala Settle sing ‘This Is Me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman.’”


“This Is Me” is a song performed by Keala Settle, who portrayed Lettie Lutz, AKA the Bearded Lady in the hit movie. Settle told Entertainment Weekly that she often finds herself in tears as she scrolls through countless Instagram messages where people share their stories of how encouraging the song was to them. Settle can add one more encouraging story to that tear-stained list: the tale of a tiny Westmoore alum who surprised everyone, becoming a Special Olympics national powerlifting champion.

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