In our latest newsletter, we profiled military athletes competing in the Rio 2016 Olympics. Today, we highlight Veterans Advantage Advisory Board Member and two-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer, Donna de Varona, who is attending her 14th summer Olympics this month in Rio.
At 13 years old, Donna was the youngest participant in the 1960 Olympic Games. She went on to break 20 world records for swimming and win two gold medals four years later at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Donna is not only a fearless swimmer but also a consummate professional as she broke gender barriers in sports broadcasting in the mid-1960s.With great persistence and tireless effort, she also help pass Title IX of the Equal Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions receiving Federal funding. This provision has helped millions of young women obtain sports scholarships and pursue their athletic dreams. Donna is the recipient of the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic Movement, awarded for her distinguished contributions to the Olympic Movement in the cause of sport.
Currently, Donna and her Army veteran spouse John Pinto, are in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games. She and John are pictured here with two Olympic gymnasts and gold medal winners, Nadia Comaneci and her spouse Bart Conner. Nadia was the first ever gymnast to score two perfect 10’s for Romania and Bart (also scoring a perfect 10) won gold for the U.S. in the 1984 Olympics.
As we thank Donna for all her contributions to Veterans Advantage and to world athletics, we remind you to tune in and root for Team USA, as the Rio 2016 Olympics begin to heat up!
Donna also serves on the Executive Board of Special Olympics International and is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Women and Sports Commission. Most recently Secretary of State Hilary Clinton appointed her to the United States Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sports.