‘Riding with us from above’: Emotional farewell for teen
"HUMBLE, brave, generous", Luke Azzopardi would no doubt be a little uncomfortable with the tributes that flowed from a community still in shock at the loss of the popular Cairns athlete.
In a bittersweet celebration of his life, family and friends fought back their own tears as they remembered the 19-year-old rising star of the Cairns Cycling Club.
He was tragically killed in a crash on February 10 while training on Lake Morris Rd at Kanimbla for an upcoming race.
Liesel Pasani led the service at Heritage Brady Funerals in Gordonvale.
"We are numb in shock and disbelief; even people who did not know Luke are grieving for him," Ms Pasani said.
"There are no words; dig deep, face the headwind and tuck in for the ride ahead."
By all accounts, Mr Azzopardi was "a truly remarkable young man" who did not seek the limelight but inspired others with his zest for living.
"He experienced life off the couch and lived it to the fullest," Ms Pasani said.
"He was born to fly and experience as much of the world it offered.
"He was out ticking boxes faster than most of us."
In an emotional eulogy, his mother Sue described her son as a passionate outdoorsman and athlete who developed a passion for cycling at a young age.
"You came into the world and hit the ground running ever since," Ms Azzopardi said.
"You shone such a light from the start.
"You didn't need toys, just the outdoors to roam; you will be riding with us from above.
"Now you will see every sunrise from the top of the highest mountain.
"We will miss you more than you can imagine."
Cycling Club President Richie Bates said the junior state champion "made Cairns Cycling Club a better place; he made cycling a better place."
"Luke's achievements were remarkable for a man of his years," Mr Bates said.
He praised Luke as "a quiet achiever with an inner determination and confidence.
"It was inevitable he would become a positive influence in the cycling community.
"He led by example and set benchmarks of values to behold.
"His modesty was legendary."
St Augustine's College teacher Aaron Hume said his former student "showed all the quality of a Saints man."
"He blessed the college with his skills and talents," Mr Hume said.
"He was uncompromising will to do good was on display for all to see."
Girlfriend Madi McDonald managed to suppress her own pain until the last moments of her tribute, her voice catching as she wished to be "sitting at the top of a mountain in your arms watching the sun come up."
"I'd give anything for one more hug, one more kiss," Ms McDonald said.
Mourners filed past Luke's coffin to lay petals as a final goodbye.
Ms Pasini said his ashes were destined for a spot where "Luke can enjoy nature and every sunrise and forever remain the free spirit".
Originally published as 'Riding with us from above': Emotional farewell for teen cyclist