Bankert is a Michigan native, born in Grand Rapids, raised in Lake Orion and a graduate of Michigan State University. Bankert moved to Guam in December 1981 with his wife and daughter. Bankert broke his hip in a serious rock climbing accident on Guam in 1984.
In 1986, the Guam National Olympic Committee was accepted into the International Olympic Committee. In August 1987 Bankert moved with his family from Guam to Bellingham, Washington, and trained with members of the Western Washington University cross-country skiing team. His personal coach was Richard Domey and in the fall of 1987 Bankert trained in West Yellowstone with the U.S. Olympic biathlon team. To be eligible to compete at the Winter Olympic Games Bankert needed to successfully complete two sanctioned biathlons competitions. He finished his second such competition on February 7, 1988, just three days before the Opening Ceremony, at which he carried the flag of Guam as its only athlete at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. At 38, Bankert was one of the oldest Olympic athletes at the 1988 Winter Olympics Games. This, combined with the fact that he represented a tropical island, made his a human interest story reported extensively in the media.
In the men's 10 km sprint event, Bankert missed eight out of the ten rifle targets and as a result had to ski eight penalty laps. totalling 1200 m. Bankert finished 71st of 72 starters in 45m37.1s, between Gustavo Giro of Argentina (36m38.1s) and Elliot Archilla of Puerto Rico (47m47.4s).
In 1993, Bankert was hired by Urbana School District #116, Urbana, IL, and taught Kindergarten at Yankee Ridge Elementary School. He was active in local school issues and advocated for changes in the manner in which school board members were elected.
After the Olympics, Bankert returned to Guam as a consultant but soon returned to the United States. In 1996, as part of the Klondike Gold Rush Centennial Celebration, he organized and led "Klondike Bound", a month-long expedition by three fathers and their teenage daughters who retraced the route taken by the original "Stampeders".
He now lives in Staunton, Virginia. and is an actor who portrays President Woodrow Wilson as part of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library's living history program. as well as on stage and appeared as President Wilson in the 2014 History Channel mini-series The World Wars.
- XV Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee (1988). XV Olympic Winter Games : official report (PDF). 2. Calgary, Canada: Calgary Olympic Development Association. ISBN 0-921060-26-2.
- Lew Freedman (February 23, 1988). "Bloodied, but not last, guy from Guam is all smiles". Anchorage Daily News. p. 93. Retrieved 19 February 2010.
- "National Olympic Committees > Guam". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 19 February 2010.
- United Press International (February 24, 1988). "Olympic notebook". Ellensburg Daily Record. Ellensburg, Washington. p. 7. Retrieved 19 February 2010.[dead link]
- Official report, p.632
- "WWPL Offers Special Exhibits and Free Admission for Students on Presidents' Day". Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. February 9, 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2010.[dead link]