‘I feel humble and privileged to have met you’: final farewell to London Olympic medallist

  • Jerich Parzival, the long-term linchpin of Dutch championship dressage teams and London 2012 Olympic medallist with rider Adelinde Cornelissen, has died aged 26.

    The pair won four European gold medals – including beating the world record Totilas had just set in the grand prix special at the 2009 Windsor Europeans – two World Cup finals and a host of other titles.

    At London 2012, they collected individual silver behind Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, and were part of the bronze medal-winning team.

    In a tribute on her social media, Adelinde said the pair had been “inseparable” for the past 21 years.

    “I feel humble and privileged to have met you and learned to get to know you… not because of the championships you won, but because of the personality you were,” she said.

    “It was quite a challenge convincing the big, shy, suspicious and scared chestnut you were, you could trust me and the world around you. But once we trusted each other, we became a team.”

    The Jazz son, bred by Ria Beijer, was Adelinde’s first grand prix horse. She was an amateur and full-time school teacher until she turned professional when they were long-listed for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

    Parzival was retired from competition after his eventful trip to the Rio 2016 Olympics, where he contracted a fever. Adelinde initially hacked him a few days a week in his retirement, but “went flying through the woods one too many times” and she decided full retirement would be more restful.

    In her tribute, Adelinde said that he taught her “love, trust, respect, friendship, loyalty, passion, to live life to the fullest, try to be the best you can be every day, enjoy the little things, never give up [and that] dreams can come true”.

    “He made me the person I am today and I am for ever thankful for that,” she said.

    “He was a real professor. He brought the grooms to the field every day, he would step on your toes if you tried to stop brushing or scratching him. He would try and scare new grooms trying to enter his stable, after a few years he was so confident with cameras he would stop and pose as soon as he spotted one.

    “I have never met such a personality!”

    She added that Parzival was her “best buddy”, “soulmate” and will be for ever in her heart.

    “[He was] the one that will go through fire for me and I for him. I am devastated and heartbroken,” she said.

    “Thanks Parzi for an amazing journey and wonderful memories, I will cherish them.”

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