Burry Stander : A Tribute To A Hero & A Legend



‘The Dart’ In His Own Words…..

“I started riding mountain bikes with my dad and older brothers on a farm just outside of Port Shepstone in KZN at the age of 10. I remember those first years as the most challenging of my career. I think the bikes I was on back then weighed more than me but it didn’t deter my enthusiasm. Instead I always wanted to ride further and faster by day and by night I was flipping through American mountain bike magazines dreaming of one day meeting my heroes that graced the pages.

10 years have gone by and my passion has stayed the same. The same things that drove me back then drive me today. For me it’s all about being the best that I can be, and if that gets me to the top I’d be very grateful.

The sport has taken me on an awesome journey over the years, in 1999 I won my first SA and African titles as a u/13 or sprog as the category is known. In 2005 I made a trip to the USA to compete against the best that country had to offer. I managed three wins out of four in their national series and with that I got a wonderful opportunity to race for the GT international mountain bike team in 2006.

I steadily improved over my first two years as a pro with the team racing the world cup series all over the world and had a brake through year this year winning the u/23 world cup and placing 5th in the pro men. In 2008 I also had the awesome honour of representing South Africa at the Olympic games in Beijing where I finished in 15th place. I continue to race locally whenever the chance permits and I enjoy riding with friends and family whenever I get the chance.”

Quoted from iamspecialized.com



A Tribute To A Hero & A Legend

My name is Shaun, I’m from the UK and currently reside in Taiwan. I write for Token Products and today on behalf of Token and myself I wanted to put aside my usual day of writing tasks and take some time to write a piece about a man I have personally never met, but who has inspired me, touched me, whose stories about him have made me cry, and he has made me think a lot about what sort of a man I am. That man is Burry Stander.

As many in the cycling world know, Burry was tragically killed in an accident on Thursday January 3rd while out on a training ride near his home. I read the tragic news in an email from a friend and colleague who had traveled home for Christmas to South Africa. Following his email, I started to see the social media networks buzzing with news and postings about what had happened.

I have spent quite a bit of time reading articles, news reports and testimonials about Burry and it stands out just how much of a hero, a legend and an inspiration he was to so many. Today, I’d like to share some of the things I recently read with you all. The articles I read made me think of Burry’s family and close friends and what they were all going through. I honestly filled up with tears on many occasions, especially when I read that Burry only recently got married and his wife would be attending his funeral before they even had a chance to celebrate their first anniversary. My heart goes out to his wife, Cherise.

The New Year has only just begun and normally it’s a time for talk of hopes and dreams and then suddenly those things are all gone in an instant. We can’t find the words to express this kind of grief. How does anyone possibly gain any closure from such a tragedy?

I know there is a lot of anger over the events surrounding his death and what it means for road safety regulations in South Africa. From what I’ve read, it seems that few take notice of the rules and regulations governing the roads in South Africa and this makes for dangerous conditions for cyclists every day that things continue to go unchanged.

One heated article particularly stood out written by David Moseley titled, “We all killed Burry Stander.”


David states,

“There are no rules on South Africa’s roads. None. It’s a do-as-you-please motor vehicle melee, a freewheeling fun ride for every person who gets behind the wheel of a car. I don’t think I’m far off when I say that every single motorist in this country breaks a traffic law every single time they get into their cars. Myself included.”

David also wrote,

“For all the finger-wagging and moralising, though, Stander’s death – along with the other 1,300-plus needless deaths on the roads – should cause a nation to become deeply introspective and increasingly worried about what’s happening on our roads.

In reality, nothing will change. We’re all responsible for Stander’s death. We’re all to blame for the other 1300 deaths. It’s not just taxis. It’s not just “them”. It’s everyone. You. Me. CEOs. Lowly interns. Varsity students. Suburban moms. Everyone”.

The article is cutting, but it does point at some of the hard questions about how we act when we are behind the wheel. I dare say that many, myself included will try to make a conscious effort to be more careful, but then one day it will probably all go out the window again when we are running late or that guy in front of us is driving so slowly he could be going backwards, so we race to get past him. However, it’s in those moments of impatience or misjudgement where tragedy lies.

Cherise Stander, Burry’s wife said that she does not bear a grudge towards the driver. In one article she states,

“Burry was always paranoid about abiding the traffic rules, he always keeps everyone in line on group training rides. Burry was always the one who constantly emphasized that we had to be careful and alert. There were quite a few times when Burry would get cross with me when he thought I was taking unnecessary risks.”

One thing I believe we can all take from this, no matter where you are, not just those who live in South Africa, is that safety is paramount. We all say it, but do we honestly do it. We are all responsible not only for the safety of ourselves, but the safety of those with us and around us.

A foundation is being established in Burry’s name. The 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 there is a hope to not only assist various safe cycling initiatives but also to assist talented young riders to fulfill their dreams.


Burry’s Legacy

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into
the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

 – Shannon L. Alder

South African Cyclist Burry Stander Memorial Ride

Mandie Stander, mother of the late Burry Stander, lays flowers at the sight of the
accident, where Burry Stander lost his life, on January 6, 2013 in Balito, South Africa.
(Getty Images)


On January 6th thousands of cyclists across South Africa took to the streets on their bikes to pay tribute to Stander. I saw some of the photos online and it was extremely moving to see just how many lives this one man had touched and made a difference to. All day I kept seeing these words over and over again online as people posted messages about him……………










Family Man

Family Man



An ordinary person does not garner these kinds of titles easily and to be hailed a hero and legend is something many aspire to. Being a hero doesn’t mean you save the screaming woman from the burning building or rescue the kitten stuck in a tree. That kind of heroism is short lived. To me, being a hero one must truly put oneself out there and strive every day to better himself, do good for others, care for others, live well and in meaningful ways.

The dictionary says:

“A hero is a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.”

I believe Burry did all that and more and his name and the stories about him will live on in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to have known him.

I found a few tributes online to Burry. One of them is a video on YouTube. The other, an article written by Ridaa Ismail which I think paints a nice picture about just what sort of a legend, Burry, since a young age had always aspired to be. Ridaa finishes the article with a poignant reminder of just how much more potential this young man had in him, but was taken away before any of it could be realised.

She states,

“The real tragedy however is this: the world said goodbye to Burry Stander, before they even had a chance to say hello.”

Read the rest of the article here:



Tribute Video


A Mother’s Love : A Son To Be Proud Of

“I don’t think there are enough words in the world that exist to express exactly just how much I love my son! He’s right there in the front of my soul, he can turn me into an eagle, a lioness, a tigress, a swan! A goof or a queen! There’s no underestimating just how much I love him; I surround him like the ocean surrounds the ships! I never wanted to change the world, until he came along and showed me that he deserves a better world to live in!” – C. JoyBell C.

A Mother’s love is something precious. I came across this piece from earlier in 2012 which describes beautifully just how much Burry’s mum thought of him. It reminded me of my own mother and that set me off in tears again.


“Enigiemand wat dié ma ken, sal vir jou sê sy is ongelooflik trots,” sê Mandie Stander, ma van die bergfietsryer Burry Stander.

“As ek by ’n winkel instap en Burry op ’n voorblad sien, sal ek eers vir almal wys dis mý seun.”

Stander, wat saam met haar gesin in Umtentweni aan die Suidkus woon, lag wanneer sy uitgevra word oor haar “geheime resep” om ’n top-atleet groot te maak.

“Jy doen eintlik net die back-up, die res kom natuurlik. As jou kind talentvol is en hy wil presteer, help jy hom om sy talente te ontgin.”

Dié benadering het ’n lewe beteken wat “nooit rustig was nie”.

“Ons het baie agter geleenthede aangery vir Burry en dit het ons sakke geraak. Maar dit het gehaltetyd saam met die gesin beteken – tyd om te gesels en speletjies te speel.”

Back-up of nie te nie, die geld om reise soos dié aan te pak kom aanvanklik meestal uit ouers se sakke.

“As jy ’n geldjie móét maak en jy is mal oor jou kinders, doen jy dit maar net,” sê Stander, wat haar eie onderneming bedryf.

English Translation

“Anyone who knows this mother would tell you that she is incredibly proud”, says Mandie Stander, mother of mountain biker Burry Stander.

“If I walk into a shop and Burry is on a cover, I will first stop and show everyone that this is my son”

Stander, that lives with her family in Umtentweni on the South coast, laughs when she is asked about her “secret recipe” to raise a top-athlete.

“You actually only need to do the back-up, the rest comes naturally. If your child is talented and he wants to perform, you just help him to develop his talent.” 

This approach meant a life that “was never relaxed.”

“We followed Burry to a lot of opportunities and this wasn’t as easy on our pockets. This however meant quality time as a family – time to chat and have fun.”

To back-up or not, tackling races like this mostly comes out of the parent’s pockets.

“If you have to make a bit of money and are crazy about your kids, then you just do it,” says Stander who runs her own business.

Over the years in my family we have had our disagreements, we have fallen out, we’ve made up again, there’s been hurt, there’s been laughter, there’s been disappointment, failures and some truly epic and wonderful memories together. Whether times are good or whether they are not so good, there’s one thing that my parents have always repeated to me.

“No matter what may happen in life, Shaun, we want you to know that you are our son, and that we will always love you, even if you might get on our bloody nerves at times. We are proud of you, the choices you have made in your life and the man you have become.”

I thought about this when I was reading the statements that Burry’s parents have released to the press and tears started rolling thinking of how losing a child must be simply unbearable. All parents want is for their children to succeed and be happy and that they will do anything in their power to help them on their way.

Burry’s father, Charles Stander, said he and his family will remember their son not just 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, Charles Stander 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.”

What more could any parent ask for than a son like Burry?

I want to finish up this article with a prayer written by General Douglas A. MacArthur written for his son. It is one of my favourite pieces and it is my hope that this is a most fitting piece for such an extraordinary man, son, husband, hero and legend who inspired so many.

With much admiration and respect.

Shaun Bettinson

January 25th 2013


A Prayer For My Son

By General Douglas A. MacArthur

Burry StanderBuild me a son, O Lord,
who will be strong enough to know when he is weak,
and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid;
one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat,
and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be
where his backbone should be;
a son who will know Thee,
and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort,
but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.
Here, let him learn to stand up in the storm;
here, let him team compassion for those who fall.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high;
a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men;
one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep;
one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his,
add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor,
so that he may always be serious,
yet never take himself too seriously.

Give him humility, so that he may always remember
the simplicity of true greatness,
the open mind of true wisdom,
the meekness of true strength.

Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.”


Ride In Peace Burry Stander.




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