November 27, 2005

George Best RIP

A little late (I've been away) but RIP to a very talented sportsman with a controversial lifestyle very typical of sporting megastars of his era (witness also James Hunt, F1 world champion). A man whose death was long expected – I could almost say deliciously anticipated, by some of the media – and has been publically mourned. This entry isn't about him.

You'll probably have missed it, what with all the front pages, back pages and souvenir pull-outs in the papers in the last couple of days, but Britain has lost another sporting hero far more tragically this weekend, and it happened with barely a trace of coverage. Richard Burns, the first and only Englishman to win the World Rally Championship, passed away over the weekend, aged 34.

Burns had become the youngest ever winner of the British Rally Championship in 1993 with Subaru and entered his first WRC rally in 1998 with Mitsubishi. He rejoined Subaru, coming second in the World Championship in 1999 and 2000, before winning the title at the final round of the 2001 season, the Rally of Great Britain. (I was there, in my first year at Warwick, marshalling on Special Stage 6 with the Motorsport club).

He joined Peugeot as World Champion but, despite not winning a rally with them in 2002 or 2003, was within 5 points of the championship leader going into the final round, Rally GB, of the 2003 season. Driving himself to Cardiff in his road car a couple of days before the rally started, Burns passed out. After extensive tests, he was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and prevented from competing again. Months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy looked to have helped him make a partial recovery, but his condition deteriorated again and even brain surgery earlier this year could not save him.

Family and competitors' tributes have spoken of a very gifted and intelligent competitive driver, a sharp wit and a man whose attitude in coping with a terrible illness was inspirational. May he rest in peace.

Richard Burns, 1971 - 2005


- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hear, hear.

    27 Nov 2005, 23:38

  2. Mathew Mannion

    The BBC website had a lot of coverage abotu Richard Burns, not nearly as much as George Best, but there was enough coverage to make me sit down and feel sad at 8am on Saturday morning when I was making a cup of tea and I heard that he'd finally been beaten by it :(

    The surgery at the start of this year was never intended to save him, it was to relieve the symptoms so that he could be mobile

    28 Nov 2005, 08:53

  3. The death of Richard Burns reminded me of that poem that was circulating at the time of the death of Ayrton Senna

    Ayrton Senna died today
    We all do mourn his loss
    Ratzenberger died as well
    And no-one gave a toss.

    Shame that the passing of Burns will largely be missed amongst the Best bandwagon

    28 Nov 2005, 10:44

  4. Why is a man who lost his battle with cancer less worthy of acknowledgement than a man who caused his death? Typical of todays society. Personally – i don't feel at all sad for George Best, just his family who he hurt throughout his life and finally with his death.

    28 Nov 2005, 13:38

  5. Captain Caveman

    sigh Many people died last week Amy. The coverage of George Best doesn't question the validity of their lives. I agree that some coverage was ridiculous and distasteful – but mostly it was responsible.

    As for the catty remarks implying just rewards, grow up. Obituaries are not rewards for lives lived within certain parameters and your comments are waspish and soul-less in the extreme. I'm not going to rehearse the arguments, as ten minutes reading the guardian's coverage are more than eloquent on the quick-burn mess of his life.

    Non of which will convince censorious people like you, but who cares about that?

    I'd rather the squalor of self-destructive natures than the mindlessly admonishing.

    It is distasteful to draw comparisons between these two people. Tragedies are sui generis, incomensurable. Show some respect to Richard Burns and George Best.

    28 Nov 2005, 14:20


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