Family and sporting fraternity pay tribute to Burry
“No parent should ever have to see his child lying on a tarred road after an accident, knowing that there is absolutely nothing he can do to save his life.
So said Charles Stander, father of the late Olympic mountain-biker Burry Stander, killed in a motoring tragedy on Thursday.
Stander said: “It is definitely the worst moment of my life. Words cannot even begin to describe how one feels when it happens. It was terrible.”
His son, Burry, one of the world’s foremost mountain bikers, was killed in an accident, while training in Shelly Beach, on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, when he was hit by a taxi. Apparently the driver did not see Stander when he made a turn. Stander died on the scene.
Colonel Jay Naicker, a spokesperson for the SA Police, confirmed that a docket for culpable homicide was opened.
According to Charles Stander, he and his family will not remember his son only for his successes as a mountain biker.
“For us Burry will always be more than just a mountain-bike champion. In fact, he was a champion on and off his bike. For him his family always came first. He never hesitated to help when, and where ever, he could.”
When asked what he considered to be the highlights of his son’s cycling career, Stander (sen)n said that it was almost impossible to make a selection. “Where does one start? There were some special moments. Burry really made us all very proud.”
He asked the cyclists who are planning to participate in Memorial Rides in memory of his son, not to let their emotions get the best of them. “This is the last thing that Burry would have wanted.”
The funeral arrangements will only be finalized by next week.
Zoon Cronje, of the ZCMC company, said that a Burry Stander Foundation will be established to fund and drive the process to change legislation concerning cycling safety as well as assist various projects to promote safe cycling.
“Our initial plan with the Burry Stander Foundation is to raise funds to help to pay for any legal costs that may be incurred to drive the process. Later on we hope to not only assist various safe cycling initiatives but also to assist talented young riders to fulfil their dreams.”
Stander was already associated with projects like Songo.info with his Epic partner Christoph Sauser.
The official memorial rides will be used to not only drive awareness but also hand over petitions to the MEC. Cronje added
“We are fortunate to have the organisers of the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour helping us with the Cape Town leg, the organizers of the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge assisting with the Gauteng leg and also support from Andrew Maclean via CycleLab and Fritz Pienaar via Advendurance. There will also be a ride on the South Coast where Burry is from”
All the details will be communicated via Burry’s official Facebook page www.facebook.com/africanmtbkid
Stander’s death sent shockwaves throughout the international sporting community and tributes from all over the world are pouring in on the various sports and news websites and on the social media.
Leader of the DA, Helen Zille, posted her condolences on Twitter, writing: Such a tragedy. The cycling legend Burry Stander died today after being hit by a vehicle.
Christoph Sauser (Switzerland), Stander’s Epic team-mate and mentor, said that the feeling of emptiness and shock he experienced on hearing of Burry’s death was worse than when his dad died when he was still a child. “I will never ever forget you,” he said.
Germany’s Karl Platt, a four-time winner of the Absa Cape Epic, tweeted: “I am speechless, shaking and completely out of my mind! What a sad day. We lost a part of our ‘family’. Our prayers are with your family.”’
Greg Minnaar, World Champion in downhill racing, described Stander as a fighter, a champion, a gentleman and a legend forever.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, South Africa’s foremost female cyclist, said that she was sickened by the news of the passing away of Burry Stander. “My deepest condolences to Cherise Stander and family! May God give you strength.”
Robert Hunter, former stage winner in the Tour de France, said his thoughts go out to Burry’s wife and family. “Huge loss for South African and world cycling.”
According to John Smit, a former Springbok captain, he is still struggling to deal with the news. “Burry was an absolute legend and hero of mine on the bike. Rest in peace, ‘Boet’.”
Victor Matfield, also a former Springbok captain, said it was time to stand up for cyclists’ rights on South African roads. “Such sad stuff to hear that South African hero, Burry Stander, one of the world’s best mountain bikers, was killed by a taxi on our roads.”
Max Knox, South African marathon champion, said he will miss his rivalry with Burry. “There are no words to describe my feelings when hearing of his death. My heart is very sore. You will be missed dearly, my friend.”
According to Daryl Impey winner of two stages on the ProTour, Burry will always be his hero. “You are a legend in the Czech Republic Forever,” wrote Radek Nedved, a Facebook supporter.
“Terrible news…. Burry Stander passing away – I cannot believe it,” tweeted Arron Brown.
“Saddest news to start 2013. Rest in peace, my fellow 2012 Olympic teammate. My prayers are with his family and Cherise,” said Bridgitte Hartley (bronze medallist canoeist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London).
Kevin Vermaak, Absa Cape Epic founder, said: “This is the saddest news I’ve received since I began my involvement in South African cycling 10 years ago. “Burry was our brightest star. I’m upset that the world has been deprived of a true legend in the making. Now we’ll never know just how great he was destined to be. My thoughts are with his wife, Cherise, and his family, who have always been his biggest supporters.”
In 2011 Stander made history by becoming the first ever South African winner of the Cape Epic. Since his Absa Cape Epic debut in 2008, Stander has entered the event 6 times, won 20 stages with teammate Christoph Sauser and walked away with overall honours twice.
Gideon Sam, president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), said more needed to be done to protect athletes.
“I’ve said this time and again but it is really time to work even harder at protecting both our runners and cyclists who use the roads daily to do their training.”
Fierce rival of Stander’s on the SA mountain biking scene, Kevin Evans, wrote on Twitter: “Take nothing for granted. Ever. Condolences to the Stander family.”
Aww guys, this is awful! Speechless really. Gone too soon! posted former Springbok wing – and Cape Epic competitor – Breyton Paulse.
Stormers fly-half Peter Grant added: Terrible news to hear of Burry Stander’s passing away. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
Retired Proteas wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher, posted: Terrible day! Bad news about a really special person and South African sport hero. Thoughts go out to the families concerned. So sorry!
SA trail running star, Ryan Sandes, also took to Twitter to express his sadness, writing: Gutted to hear about Burry! RIP buddy. You will always be a South African hero! My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Tour de France star Chris Froome: “Very sad start to the new year and a massive loss to African cycling with the passing of Burry Stander”