January 04, 2013
Tribute to Absa Cape Epic champion Burry Stander
South African mountain biker Burry Stander, who won the Absa Cape Epic race with team partner Christoph Sauser last year and in 2011, has died in a road accident while on a training ride.
Stander (25) was involved in a collision with a taxi in Shelly Beach, KwaZulu-Natal, on Thursday. He was out training for this year's Absa Cape Epic race.
Stander was a two-time Olympian – he competed in Beijing in 2008, and finished fifth at the London Olympics last year.
He was also a former under-19 and under-23 world champion, and finished third in the 2010 World Championships. He held the title of UCI Mountain Bike World Cup under-23 men’s cross-country champion in 2009, and had competed in several races around the world since 2008.
Stander married elite road cyclist Cherise Taylor in May last year.
Business Day Live quoted Gideon Sam, president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), as saying he was “shattered” by the news.
“Burry was the epitome of an Olympic athlete – talented and ultra-competitive but at the same time extremely humble and a true gentleman,” he said.
“Sascoc, the cycling fraternity and the entire South African sporting community mourns his passing and sends our prayers to his wife and family.”
News of his death was picked up internationally and messages of shock and condolences have been flooding social media platforms.
Tweets from the South African sporting community included:
@OscarPistorius: Absolutely devastated by the tragic news of Burry Stander's Passing. A South African Icon and sporting great. RIP my friend.
@markb46: Kak day! Bad news about a special person in my life, then about a SA sports hero, Burry! Thoughts go out to the families concerned! So sorry!
@johan_botha: Sad to wake up to news about Burry Stander!! He's one of the reasons I started cycling!! Thoughts with his family & friends! #legend #RIP
@MickeyArthur: Woke up to the news of SA cyclist Burry Standers death while on a training ride!What a tradegy.RIP
@JohnSmit123: I'm still struggling to deal with the news of Burry Stander's passing today. An absolute legend and hero of mine on the bike. R.I.P boet
Western Cape premier Helen Zille tweeted: "Such a tragedy. The cycling legend Burry Stander died today after being hit by a vehicle. Tragedy."
Cape Town Tourism also sends condolences to Stander's friends and family at this tragic time. South Africa has lost a great ambassador.
Memorial races are being planned in cities across the country.