"The first days in Rio went according to plan," Adelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. "A relaxed flight, stabling good, training good. Parzival feels happy and fit."
Parzival is Cornelissen's horse. And, like all the Olympic competitors who traveled to Rio, Brazil, this summer, Cornelissen had been fighting for years to get to the Olympic games. She and Parzival were to compete in dressage, a kind of stylized riding.
But after the smooth trip, things started to go awry. Parzival, who had competed in the 2012 Olympics in London and received a silver and bronze medal, was bitten by a poisonous insect on the head. His head swelled and he came down with a terrible fever.
Veterinarians rushed in to give Parzival fluids to reduce his fever. And soon he started to seem better. His fever dropped and the swelling of his head went down.
"I slept at the stables, checking up on Parzi every hour," Cornelissen wrote. "I was not going to leave him alone!"
Cornelissen didn't want to let her team down, and since Parzival looked better, and the veterinarians said he'd be fine, she decided to go ahead and compete.
She sat astride Parival and entered the arena. But he didn't feel very powerful. "When I entered, I already felt he was giving his utmost," she wrote. "Being the fighter he is, he never gives up."
But it still didn't feel right, after all Parzival had gone through since arriving in Rio.
"In order to protect him, I gave up," Cornelissen wrote. "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."
Nothing was worth risking Parzival's life - not even an Olympic gold medal.