Taneytown Special Olympian Syd Lea

Tracy Lea, right, adjust her son Syd Lea's Special Olympics medals at their home in Taneytown. Syd has attended numerous World Games, and put his experience to great use by winning three individual gold medals for Team USA, the most by a single competitor from Maryland, at the recent games in Greece. (Staff Photo by Jen Rynda, Patuxent Publishing / July 22, 2011)

From Syd Lea's home in Taneytown, the Pennsylvania line is less than two miles away.

When the accomplished cyclist ventures outside from his home gymnasium, he often crosses the Mason-Dixon Line as part of his training regimen.

That's not the only boundary that he has crossed during his cycling career.

The 26-year old from northwestern Carroll County has traversed the world several times on the way to becoming the premier cyclist among American Special Olympians.

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Lea was a top winner for Team USA in the recent Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, earning three of the team's 10 gold medals in the international competition.

"I am so proud to have represented Team USA, but especially my home state of Maryland," Lea said.

Indeed, Lea was the state's most successful athlete in the international competition, which brought together more than 7,500 athletes from 185 countries in the birthplace of the modernOlympic Games.

He ranks second in the world among intellectually disabled cyclists, and, in Greece, he was one of 315 athletes representing the United States.

He finished first in the 15-kilometer (23:25.79), 25-kilometer (40:32.34), and the grueling 40-kilometer (59:30.34) road races.

After riding the equivalent of 53 miles in three days, Lea had raised his Olympic medal total to 11 in four trips to the Special Olympics World Games. Seven of those medals are gold.

Lea said he firmly believes in the Special Olympics motto: "If I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

But he nevertheless possesses an unquenchable desire to finish first.

"I like to attack the race," said Lea, who has earned the nickname "The Bus" for his relentless style. "I work so hard to get out front and stay there."

Family of Olympians

He is also the most successful Olympic athlete in his fa "I am so proud to have represented Team USA, but especially my home state of Maryland," Lea said.

mily, quite a feat considering what his relatives have accomplished.

His father, Rob Lea, was a rower for the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1964 Tokyo Games. Syd's older brother Bobby, now 27 and living near Allentown, Pa., was a member of the Olympic cycling team in 2008 at theBeijingOlympic Games.

His second cousin, Charlie Kellogg, represented his country as a cross country skier at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France.

Cycling is a family tradition, but for Lea it's also a labor of love.

Brothers Bobby and Syd began their cycling careers at the side of their active parents. Syd was just 3 when he traveled with his parents and brother to Austria for cycling's World Masters Championships.