Local Olympic Spotlight: Topton, PA Native, Bobby Lea, Seeking Redemption and Medal
After his chance was nearly taken away from him, Bobby Lea of Topton, Pennsylvania will have a chance at redemption when he heads to Rio as part of the cyclist team.
At the U.S. Track Nationals in 2015, Lea tested positive for the banned substance noroxycodone. The positive test caused a ban by the Cycling Federation for sixteen months, which would have ran past the Rio games, obviously stopping him from making the team. However, after explaining on his own website that he had taken a drug to only help him rest before the U.S. nationals, he appealed his ban to the Court of Arbitration of Sport. There, he was able to shorten the ban to only six months.
Even after the ban was shortened, the small glimmer of hope to go to Rio seemed to fade when he wasn’t named to a long list of potential candidates for the long team, because he wasn’t in good standing with the several organizations, including the United States anti-doping agency and Olympic Committee. However, he was able to appeal that as well, and was able to finally make the team on the last spot for men’s omnium in Rio, marking his third Olympic appearance.
Lea, 32, has been a fixture on the international track cycling scene for the past decade, but is still looking for his first Olympic medal. While he has been training through his ban, there will still be some rust from not competing on the world’s biggest stages in Rio, and that hangover could cost him even a fraction of a second, which could separate him from the podium. He is racing in the omnium, the same discipline in which he won the bronze medal in the scratch race at the world championships in 2015.
After finishing in the omnium in London in 12th place, expectations for Lea should be relatively low, but he does have a chance to medal. He will be hoping for redemption as well, which could help to fuel his race even more. He knows full well just how close he came to not making the Olympic team, so he definitely won’t take it for granted.
Bobby’s brother Syd, who had brain damage from having limited oxygen at birth, is a competitive cyclist as well, being a five time medalist in the Special Olympics. Bobby has accumulated over forty national championships during his career, winning his first one at age 13 in 1997. He attended Penn State and biked while earning his degree in business management. He races for Pure Energy Racing, which is based in Lambertville, New Jersey.
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