Levin equestrian Louise Duncan is no stranger to overcoming setbacks.
Missing out on a chance to contest the Tokyo Olympics in August with the New Zealand team pales in comparison with the hurdles the 33-year-old has overcome throughout her life.
As a 17-year-old Duncan contracted meningitis and nearly died. Since then she has become a successful businesswoman and a world-class para-equestrian athlete, despite the challenges left by the disease.
Doctors told her she was lucky to survive. Paralysed from the neck down, she spent more than a year learning to walk and talk again after suffering a stroke, too.
She was having dinner with a friend one night when her shoulder became stiff and sore. She began to feel nauseous and started vomiting.
It could have been explained away as being a gastroenteritis bug, which was doing the rounds, until her mother Frankie noticed a rash on her hands and feet.
She was rushed to hospital. While waiting for test results, the headaches worsened. She collapsed, and then lapsed into a coma for more than a week.
When she woke, she discovered she had had a stroke during bouts of seizures. She was told she'd be lucky to walk again, let alone ride horses.
In a year-long hospital stay, she had to learn to walk, talk and write again. Within five months she was walking unassisted, although there were many falls.
She still has severe headaches, and cognitive, strength and balance issues due to strokes from the meningitis, but felt lucky to be able to carry on with life as she does.
Duncan was on track to qualify for Tokyo as a para-equestrian, but the outbreak of Covid-19 made qualifying that much more difficult with several qualifying events cancelled.
But with an optimism that had served her well before, missing a Tokyo berth was not all in vain because she and her horses had learnt so much through the experience.
That knowledge would hold the team in good stead for whatever was on the horizon, which included qualifying for the World Equestrian Games in Denmark next year, or the Paris Olympics in 2024.
"It's been a huge learning curve. We have really enjoyed the journey. I've learnt so much that I will be able to take forward from this," she said.
"We've met a lot of wonderful people along the way and had so much support the whole time. The local support has been incredible."
"Bring on the next chapter."
There had been some fine results this year regardless, including winning a grade 4 event in Queensland before the Covid-19 outbreak.
In hindsight, missing Tokyo might not be so bad. Away from the arena there would be strict Covid-19 controls in place that would completely strip away the social aspect that many athletes enjoy outside of competition.
There was no "village". Athletes would be tested every four days for Covid-19 and a sore throat complaint would bring automatic isolation.
Duncan, who had ridden horses since she was 2, had a good team behind her. Her mother Frankie was a certified ESNZ coach, her father Lloyd was a farrier, while her husband Justin was on board too as chief groom.
The best riders need good horses too. Duncan was conscious of succession planning due to the rising age of two horses that had served her so well in recent times, Wolkenstien VC and Northern Ivantus.
Because they were aged 18 and 16 respectively, there had to be an eye on the future, and there was a young 2-year-old showing promise that Duncan hoped to educate and bring through the grades.
"He has very good bloodlines so we will work with him and bring him on. He's a big boy," she said.