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Former Olympian, world champion Bankaitis-Davis dies at 63

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Danute (Bunki) Bankaitis-Davis

Bunki Bankaitis-Davis in the Coors Classic in 1988 (Image credit: Denver Post)
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Danute (Bunki) Bankaitis-Davis

Danute (Bunki) Bankaitis-Davis (Image credit: Darcy Kiefel)
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Danute (Bunki) Bankaitis-Davis

Danute (Bunki) Bankaitis-Davis, a world TTT champion in 1992 (Image credit: Casey Gibson)
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Danute (Bunki) Bankaitis-Davis

Danute (Bunki) Bankaitis-Davis at the 1992 world championships (Image credit: Darcy Kiefel)

Former Olympian and team time trial world champion Danute 'Bunki' Bankaitis-Davis died on January 29, 2021 at 63 after a seven-year battle with cancer.

Bankaitis-Davis represented the United States in five world championships, taking home the team time trial title in 1992 along with teammates Jan Bolland, Jeanne Golay, and Eve Stephenson, and in the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea in 1988 and was first alternate for the next Games in Barcelona.

Her athletic career began in NCAA volleyball and she turned to cycling on the road and track while earning a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Bankaitis-Davis competed with the 7-Eleven, Centurion and Look teams in domestic and European races, making the podium in the Tour de France Feminin, Tour of Molenheike, Post Giro World Cup, European Spring Classics, Coors Classic and the US Olympic Trials.

After her racing career, Bankaitis-Davis remained involved in the sport while enjoying a successful scientific career that included co-founding the molecular diagnostics company Source MDx. She served on the USA Cycling Board of Directors, the United States Olympic Committee Athletes Advisory Council and Sport, Science & Technology Committee, and the USA Cycling Athlete Selection Committee.

Former teammate Deirdre Barry remembered Bankaitis-Davis on Facebook, writing, "Bunki had a profoundly positive impact on me both on and off the bike, as we were teammates for four years on 7-Eleven and the US National Team. Intelligent, witty and a great mentor. She will be missed."

Bankaitis-Davis leaves behind her husband Chip and son Armen. "Bunki made a habit of tackling every stage in life and sport with spirit, determination, excellence, kindness and good humor. She remains well-loved by teammates, colleagues, friends and family alike, and will be profoundly missed," her obituary read.