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Top South African mountain biker killed in road accident

By David McKenzie, CNN
January 4, 2013 -- Updated 1657 GMT (0057 HKT)
South Africa's Burry Stander (R) competes in the cross-country mountain bike race of the London 2012 Olympic on August 12, 2012.
South Africa's Burry Stander (R) competes in the cross-country mountain bike race of the London 2012 Olympic on August 12, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Burry Stander is hit by a vehicle while on a training ride in South Africa
  • He was the country's most successful mountain biker
  • He finished fifth in his event at the Olympic Games in London last year
  • Stander missed out on a medal by just four seconds

(CNN) -- South African mountain bike star Burry Stander, who narrowly missed out on a medal at the London Olympics, has been killed in a road accident.

Stander, 25, was on a training ride when he was hit Thursday by a vehicle in Shelly Beach, on the country's southeast coast, according to Cycling South Africa, the national cycling body.

Details of the accident are still being investigated, it said.

"Not only is this a loss to South African sport, but we have lost a true gentleman who through his professionalism, modesty and humility, constantly showing sheer guts, represented our country with great pride," Cycling South Africa said in the statement released Thursday.

The organization expressed its condolences to Stander's family, including his wife and parents.

Human to Hero: Adrien Niyonshuti

Stander finished fifth in the Men's Cross Country mountain bike event at the Olympic Games in London last year.

It was the second Olympics for Stander, who had finished 15th in the same event at the Beijing Games.

He rode a superb race to move through the field in a race won by Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic from Nino Schurter of Switzerland.

Italy's Marco Fontana was third, 25 seconds adrift, with Stander only missing out on the podium by four seconds in a close finish.

He had won the 2011 African championships to book his place at the Games. Adrien Niyonshuti was fourth in the same race to become the first Rwandan to qualify for an Olympic competition.

Stander had recently married the multiple South African road race champion Cherise Taylor.

CNN's Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

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