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Olympian and world champion cyclist Bunki Bankaitis-Davis dies at 63

The respected American cyclist was successful in sport and in her scientific career

Photo by: Darcy Kiefel

After a seven-year battle with cancer, Olympian and former world champion cyclist Bunki Bankaitis-Davis died on Jan. 29, 2021.

Bankaitis-Davis, who was 63 years old, was a five-time member of the United States world championships road cycling team. She competed at the Seoul 1988 and was the first alternate in the Barcelona 1992 Olympics and earned multiple podium results in the the Tour de France Feminin, Tour of Molenheike, Post Giro World Cup, European Spring Classics, Coors Classic and the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Known as a consummate teammate and mentor, Bankaitis-Davis was highly-respected throughout the ranks of women’s cycling, and named United States National Team Captain in 1992. She also raced for some of the top trade teams of the period, including 7-Eleven, Centurion and Look.

photo: Denver Post

A successful scientific career

Bankaitis-Davis retired from competitive cycling at the end of the 1992 season. Armed with a Ph.D. in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of North Carolina, she embarked on a successful 20-year career as a translational scientist. With a focus on drug and diagnostic development in corporate, entrepreneurial and consultative environments, in 1998, she co-founded Source MDx, a privately held molecular diagnostics company in Boulder, Colorado. Recently, she served as vice president of quality and laboratory operations for Scipher Medicine, in Boston.

Photo: Casey Gibson

After her racing career, Bankaitis-Davis also served on the United States Cycling Federation’s Board of Directors, the United States Olympic Committee Athletes Advisory Council and Sport, Science & Technology Committee, and the USA Cycling Athlete Selection Committee.

Bankaitis-Davis is survived by her husband, Chip, and son, Armen, who has a cycling career of his own racing in downhill mtb junior and elite/pro categories.