Quintin van Jaarsveld
Riders from across the world paid tribute to the late great Burry Stander on the six-year commemoration of his passing on Thursday.
In his home town of Umtentweni on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, locals gathered at Burry Stander Bike Park for the official memorial ride.
The park is where Stander, South Africa’s most decorated mountain bike rider, honed his skills and is also the legend’s final resting place.
The group of locals set off on a wet and muddy 10km ride from the bike park down to the Umzimkhulu River and up the famous ‘Mushroom’ Hill.
A ride led by Burry’s oldest brother Charl was also held in Karkloof, while many riders the world over undertook solo rides to honour the two-time Olympian and two-time Absa Cape Epic winner.
“Charles and I are so humbled by the support we have had over the last six years to celebrate Burry’s life all over the world. I want to thank each and every one for always remembering him in a special way,” Burry’s mother Mandie told eHowzit.
Mandie said time has done little to ease the heartache, but added they strive to live in a manner their youngest son would’ve wanted.
“It still feels like yesterday…We are a hard-working family; we stay busy and we all ride our bikes…I’m sure that’s what Burry would’ve wanted. We talk about him daily.
“He will forever be our son, brother, uncle and friend, but everyone has changed. Every member of our family is still hurting, but we try.”
The multi-time South African champion and Under-23 world champion died at the age of 25 when he collided with a taxi during a training ride in Shelly Beach on January 3, 2013.
The driver, Njabulo Nyawose, who had ignored a road sign which caused the accident, was in July of 2015 convicted of culpable homicide and sentenced to an effective three years’ imprisonment.
After an unsuccessful appeal, Nyawose started his sentence in April of 2016.
To continue the South African sporting icon’s legacy, the Burry Stander Foundation was established to further develop the sport on the South Coast, assist development riders and create greater awareness of road safety.
Despite losing the backing of KZN Cycling due to financial constraints, the foundation continues to run a sponsored development team and initiatives such as #Bikes4Burry and #Helmets4Burry involving rural communities and schools.