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Two-time Olympian killed after bike is struck by minibus in South Africa

Jacques Boissinot / AP file

Burry Stander, seen here in 2010, was hailed as a "South African icon and sporting great" by Oscar Pistorius.

 

JOHANNESBURG - One of the world's top mountain bikers died Thursday after being hit by a minibus taxi while training on a coastal road.

Burry Stander, 25, narrowly missed out on a medal at the London Olympics, coming in fifth in the men's cross country event. He also finished 15th at the Beijing Games.

The South African was a former under-19 and under-23 world champion.

Police said Stander was killed on Thursday while cycling alone. He died at the scene of the accident in Shelly Beach, about 75 miles southwest of Durban.

'Ultra-competitive'
"The taxi driver allegedly stopped after the accident until the arrival of the police. No arrest has been made at this stage," police said in a statement.

"I'm totally shattered," said Gideon Sam, president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. He called Stander "talented, ultra-competitive but at the same time extremely humble and a true gentleman."

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The two-time Olympian's death prompted a flood of tributes on social media from South African athletes, politicians and celebrities. Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympic runner and multiple Paralympic medalist, said on Twitter he was "utterly devastated."

"A South African icon and sporting great. RIP my friend," Pistorius wrote.

Cycling South Africa said Stander was the country's most successful mountain biker and "a true icon and sporting role model."

Stander was the second leading cyclist to be killed in a road accident in South Africa in recent years. Carla Swart died in January 2011 when she was hit by a truck while training.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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