Cornelissen and Parzival won a silver and a bronze medal at London 2012.
(CNN) A Dutch dressage rider’s Olympic dream is over after her horse fell victim to an insect bite at Rio 2016.
Adelinde Cornelissen shocked fans by quitting the Games mid-test after her horse Parzival contracted a fever the day before the event.
Cornelissen and Parzival, who won individual silver and team bronze together at London 2012, retired from the individual Grand Prix Wednesday after only a handful of movements.
And it’s likely to have been Parzival’s final Olympic performance because the Dutch warmblood gelding is 19 years old.
Cornelissen took to Facebook and explained she pulled out of the Games over concern for Parzival’s welfare.
The day before the event, she said her horse’s head was swollen and Parzival had developed a fever, the exact cause of which is still unknown.
Cornelissen said the Dutch team had asked to alter the starting positions of the team to give the horse another day to recover but the request was refused by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).
On the day of the event, Parzival was deemed well enough to compete by FEI vets but during the test, Cornelissen realized something was not right.
“In the arena he felt totally empty and I decided not to continue. He did not deserve this,” she said.
“In order to protect him, I gave up… My buddy, my friend, the horse that has given everything for me his whole life does not deserve this… So I saluted and left the arena.”
Story by Claire Corkery, CNN
“I am not much of a follower of sporting events so the Olympics fall under that umbrella of disinterest and of no concern (except it is difficult to live in the Greater Houston area and not hear about the local, gold winning Simones, hurrah). But this week I did sit up and take note of a particular competing duo that stepped up and stood above the crowd, not because of what they did but instead because of what they did not do. An Olympic rider decided NOT to compete for the safety and well-being of her sick horse. Now THAT was something that touched me all the way down to my toes and back again: an athlete with a heart that was by far, much bigger than any ego. I am forever moved.
“My hat is off to one of the biggest winners of the summer Olympics in Rio, Ms Adelinde Cornelissen – thank you for showing us what a REAL winner looks like and for reminding us to continue to act from the heart, even when it hurts. You will always be the biggest Olympic winner, ever!” ~ R. T. Fitch