JOHANNESBURG Burry Stander, a two-time Olympian from South Africa and one of the world's best mountain bikers, was killed while training Thursday when his bike collided with a taxi. He was 25.
The circumstances of the accident near his home in Shelley Beach, south of Durban, were still being investigated, Cycling South Africa said.
Stander competed at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, finishing fifth at the London Games. He was a former under-19 and under-23 world champion.
"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."
Stander'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 "devastated."
Absolutely devastated by the tragic news of Burry Stander's Passing. A South African Icon and sporting great. RIP my friend.— Oscar Pistorius (@OscarPistorius) January 3, 2013
Stander's death comes after a rash of accidents involving high-profile cyclists in 2012, including a collision between a car and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, who suffered broken ribs.
Cycling South Africa said Stander was the country's most successful mountain biker and "a true icon and sporting role model."
Stander won South Africa's Cape Epic stage race with Swiss teammate Christoph Sauser in 2011 and the pair successfully defended their title in 2012. Sauser also mourned Stander on Twitter, using Stander's Twitter name.
never felt so empty since my dad passed away when i was a kid. @africanmtbkid i will never ever forget you!— Christoph Sauser (@sauserwind) January 3, 2013
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.