“The mark of a great man [or woman] is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.”
– Brandon Sanderson
Today’s post is about the greatness of another Olympic athlete. Dutch dressage rider, Adeline Cornelissen might have shown greatness in her sport in Rio like she did at the 2012 London Games, taking home the individual silver and team bronze medals, but the greatness that she displayed today is a different kind of fabulous.
I’ve shared many stories about Olympians manifesting their dreams in Rio, or at least trying for gold, but sometimes the victory lies in the ability to show kindness and compassion to all sentient beings over your own gains, and to be grateful for those who have helped you along the way. Cornelissen was absolutely victorious today, even though she didn’t compete.
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
– R.J. Palacio
Cornelissen’s horse, Parzival, was bitten by a poisonous insect on the head. The resulting swollen head and terrible fever improved after veterinarians rushed in to give Parzival fluids. Although vets gave the horse a green light to continue in the competition, the Dutch rider ultimately opted out of the individual Grand Prix after only a handful of movements when she realized her horse didn’t feel right:
“In order to protect him, I gave up,” Cornelissen wrote on her Facebook page. “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.”
I salute you Adeline Cornelissen! You have shown the world what greatness really means – even when it means forfeiting possible Olympic gold.
“A great man [or woman] is always willing to be little.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
I wouldn’t call what Cornelissen did “being little” – I think the quote means to be willing to put your ego or personal desires aside for the greater good, and that’s exactly what she did.
Whenever you are given the opportunity to show kindness, jump on it – it’s a chance to show your greatness.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Update: I’m a human advocate – I don’t support any advocacy groups, but I will always speak up for animal rights. I think this update makes my original message about being kind to all sentient beings even more powerful and relevant. When I wrote this article yesterday, I knew nothing about equestrian dressage competitions, and certainly had never heard of rollkur. Someone commented on my Facebook page, making me aware that Cornelissen uses this practice that involves the use of aggressive force to hyperflexion her horse’s neck. Although the practice is banned by the world governing body, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), it is not enforced. I do not, and never will condone the mistreatment of any sentient being. Like I’ve said many times, everything happens for a reason, and I believe that Parzival’s bite was a blessing in disguise. I think it was the turning point for his future, and he will no longer be subjected to cruel and unacceptable practices. I hope that he gets the love he deserves – all sentient beings deserve to be treated with love and goodness. You can read the call to end this unnecessary and cruel practice in horse sport here. #EndHorseAbuseWithRio