Durban - Four years on, Burry Stander's mother Mandie says
she’s still struggling to come to terms with her son’s shock death.
The sports world was rocked to its core on January
3, 2013 when the South African mountain biking star died at the age of 25 when
he collided with a taxi making an illegal turn during a training ride in Shelly
He achieved more in his short life than any other
South African cross-country mountain biker in history.
The trailblazer was a multi-time national and
African champion, an Under-23 world champion, the first South African to win
the Cape Epic (with Swiss partner Christoph Sauser) and flew the flag at the
Beijing and London Olympics, where he finished 15th and fifth, respectively.
Speaking on the four-year commemoration of Burry’s
death during the official memorial event held at the Burry Stander Bike Park in
Umtentweni on Tuesday, Mandie said the pain of losing her youngest son lingers
“Time does not heal. In fact, I think it gets worse
as time goes by. It’s still with so much sadness that I think of the third of
January 2013 and the days thereafter,” she told eHowzit.
“Over the four years, I’ve created a barrier around
my emotions. I often cry without tears so that no-one can see."
Mandie said the lengthy trial that ensued, which
ultimately resulted in taxi driver Njabulo Nyawose being found guilty of
culpable homicide and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in July 2015, made
the nightmare that much more unbearable.
“The three-and-a-half year court case drained me.
You go through so many emotions; happy memories, anger, sadness, what ifs, whys
She tries to be strong for her family, an emotional
Mandie said, adding her relationship with God helps her through each day.
“I have to be strong and positive; I’m a mom and
have to think of everyone in my family. Sometimes, I’m so sad for their
sadness, because I cannot make it better.
“I have learned not to think too far ahead and to
live one day at a time. I trust in God and I know that His will, will be done.”
Given the circumstances, the positive impact Mandie
makes as head of the Burry Stander
Foundation is nothing short of remarkable. Through the foundation,
she raises awareness of cycling safety and plays a leading role in developing
the sport on the South Coast, especially in the rural areas.
In conjunction with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of
Sport, Cycling South Africa and Ugu South Coast Tourism, the foundation - in
one of several initiatives - has donated bikes and equipment to underprivileged youth at schools such
as Enxolebeni Primary School near Lake Eland.
In the Burry Stander
Bike Park, opened a year after Burry’s death, the foundation also
provides a safe alternative for the community to enjoy the sport whilst
grooming a group of development riders who would otherwise not have the
financial means to ride.
Her strength comes from God, she said, adding she
hopes to share the comfort she gets from God with others.
“Hopefully, I can help others who are in the same
situation or who’ll sadly find themselves in the same situation in the future.”