Huge turnout for Stander tribute

2013-01-07 00:00

MORE than a thousand cyclists paid a poignant tribute on the South Coast yesterday to mountain biking supremo Burry Stander.

The talented Olympian was killed in an accident with a minibus taxi at Shelly Beach on Thursday afternoon.

Stander’s widow, Cherise, herself a top cyclist, joined friends, family and sporting stars in a mass ride that began at St Michaels beach.

The group, taking up an entire lane on Marine Drive, rode to the scene where Stander was killed. There, a white mountain bike and garlands of flowers were placed in his memory.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula witnessed the event and said the country had lost a great talent.

“We have lost a hero, we have lost a great South African, we have lost a great athlete and we have lost someone who has given it his all when it comes to sport. We will ensure as government that even our great-grandchildren know that there was a hero named Burry Stander. May his memory live long for many generations to remember a great hero of our people.”

Stander’s brother, Duane, said they were observing a traditional international symbol of remembrance for a cyclist’s death.

“At this stage in time, having a memorial like this helps us to cope with the immense pain we are experiencing.

“I don’t think that Burry would have expected the turnout the event received in his wildest dreams, to see how many people’s lives he had an impact on.”

Duane said he would miss his brother’s positivity, determination and friendliness.

“We spent a wonderful Christmas together as a family, everything just seemed to fall into place. As a family we have no ill feelings towards the taxi driver [who was involved in the fatal collsion]. We are just waiting for the outcome of the court proceedings. No feelings of anger or hate will bring Burry back, but obviously we want something to happen to avoid accidents like these,” he said.

Among the riders who took part were mountain bike stars Greg Minnaar and Candice Neethling.

Neethling, for whom Stander was a role model and mentor, said she would miss his presence at events.

“We travelled overseas together and competed in the same events. He was always the voice that brought light in conversation, always joking and making us laugh,” she said.

A family friend and one of the organisers of the event, Roger Paine, described Stander as a selfless human being.

“He was a man who cared for his family; he went all out for the kids he worked with.

“Even as a top cyclist he was never a rider who rode ahead, he would ride in the crowd along with everyone else to make sure they were okay,” Paine said.

Stander was on a regular training ride when he collided with the taxi. He died instantly.

The taxi driver will appear in Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court today on a charge of culpable homicide.

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