Cliff-the constant pedaller

Olympian: St George Cycling Club legend Cliff Burvill has passed away after a cycling accident
Olympian: St George Cycling Club legend Cliff Burvill has passed away after a cycling accident

Cliff Burvill, a 1956 Olympic cyclist and great cycling stalwart from St George Cycling Club died on Thursday 14 January, following an accident on the newly opened criterium circuit at Byron Bay after falling from his cycle.

Cliff partnered by his three St George team mates Frank Brazier, Warren Scarfe and Roy Moore contested the 4000 metre team pursuit at the Melbourne Olympic Games. Joe Buckley, the St George coach was also the National coach of the team. It was the first an only time that a club team represented their country at an Olympic Games.

Cliff was the youngest member of the team and was an extremely talented track and road cyclist winning many championships and major honours. Cliff started as a juvenile cyclist with St George at age 14 and managed many state title placings through the ranks and junior titles before winning the Australian Teams Pursuit in 1956 when just 18 years of age. The win in the Southcott Cup netted him his Olympic berth in Melbourne along with his St George team-mates.

Directly after the Olympic Games, Cliff travelled to Newcastle and stayed with National junior champion Ian Chapman to contest the Newcastle Road Open, an event he won.

Chapman said Cliff had a strong influence on his life as a cyclist and he was an incredible athlete.

"He talked me into travelling to Sydney to improve my cycling. I joined St George, lived with Cliff at his parents' residence in Narwee and fulfilled a lifetime dream to become an Olympic cyclist in 1960."

In 1958 Cliff Burvill recorded fastest time in the Liverpool to Goulburn Cycle Classic from scratch and won many open events.

In December 1960, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Max Langshaw travelled to Invercargill with Cliff and stayed for four months making many friends and when the new indoor velodrome was opened in 2006, both were invited back as guests, 46 years latter.

Cliff settled on the north coast with his wife Jan, raised a family but never lost interest in sport and his club St George.

Cliff became a member of Byron Bay Surf Club as a paddler and in 1988 progressed to win two silver medals in the Australian Marathon Canoe Championships in the K2 and K4 titles over 42 and 20 kilometres respectively. He was still prominent in marathon canoe championships through the 1990's.

In March 2020, Cliff travelled to Sydney to help celebrate the centenary of St George Cycling Club and reflected on the many great times spent racing with the many champions that were present on the night.

Cliff Burvill, still extremely fit for an 83 year old, was a constant pedaller that will well be remembered for his strong riding tactics and fitness in later life.