Tribute to South African Cycling Champion Burry Stander
Hundreds of cyclists gathered on the KwaZulu Natal South Coast road on Sunday 6 January to pay tribute to South African cycling champion Burry Stander who died on 3 January when he was hit by a minibus taxi at Shelly Beach as he returned from a training ride. A bicycle, spray-painted white, and floral tributes marked the spot of the tragedy which took the life of the popular athlete who excelled at his chosen sport and was an outstanding ambassador for his country. Stander’s family, with the support of the cycling community and sporting authorities, are determined that his life will not have been lost in vain as they call for lawmakers to enforce road rules, specifically the 1.5-metre passing rule, to protect cyclists and runners who use South Africa’s roads for training. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was in attendance at Sunday’s memorial ride and reportedly promised that the Burry Stander Foundation – established to campaign for legislation to make cycling safer – would receive government support and gave his assurance that the cyclist’s legacy would endure.
Stander represented South Africa at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he finished 15th in the cross-country mountain bike race, and at the 2012 London Olympics finishing in 5th place for the same event. He was the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup under-23 cross-country champion and competed in numerous prestigious races both in South Africa and beyond its borders, garnering a number of awards. In 2011, together with Swiss partner Christoph Sauser, Stander became the first South African to win the Cape Epic race – an achievement which the pair repeated in 2012.
Born on 16 September 1987 in Port Shepstone on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, Burry Stander and his wife of less than a year and fellow cyclist, Cherise Taylor, were a familiar sight on the South Coast road as they trained together. Tributes have been pouring in for the man who was considered by many to be the ideal role model for the competitive sport he represented – achieving great things, but remaining humble. Clearly, Burry Stander will be deeply missed by all who knew him.