Donald Spero is a world champion in rowing, a five time national champion and a 1986 NYAC Hall of Fame inductee.
Spero was born August 9th, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois. His rowing career began during his first year at Cornell University when was a member of the freshman eight crew that won the 1958 Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship. Spero went on to compete for Cornell’s Varsity team, winning two more national collegiate championships during his time there.
After Spero graduated from Cornell, he decided to take up the single and double sculls under the guidance of NYAC rowing legend, Jack Sulger. The transition was seamless; he won the 1963 and 1964 national championships in single sculls and qualified for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Although Spero would finish 6th in the Olympic final, he defeated three time Olympic champion Vyacheslav Ivanov in the heats.
Spero added a national championship in quadruple sculls in 1965 and another national championship in single sculls in 1966.
The most significant moment of Spero’s career came at the 1966 national rowing championships in Bled, Yugoslavia. In addition to beating Vyacheslav Ivanov for the second time, he became the first American to win the world sculling title.
In 1966, Spero became a founding member of the National Rowing Foundation: a non profit organization which raises money for the US national rowing teams.