Spain’s Matute Family to Take American Citizenship Test Oct. 24, Juan, Jr. to Continue Competing for Spain
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Oct. 5, 2017–The family of Spain’s three-time Olympian Juan Matute will be tested for American citizenship later this month but the 19-year-old Juan, Jr., No. 3 ranked Under-25 rider in the world said Thursday he will continue to ride for his homeland for now.
The citizenship test will be taken Oct. 24 by Juan, 56, who rode for Spain at the 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics; his wife, Maria; Paula, 21, and Juan, Jr. Gonzalo, the third child of Juan and Maria is a minor who was born in Spain but can attain U.S. citizenship though his parents if they are successful.
The family moved to Wellington six years ago and have become popular both personally and professionally. The family competes in Europe in summer.
Paula competed in the 2014 European Junior Championships as well as on Spanish teams at the 2013, 2014 and 2017 Nations Cups at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington.
Juan, Jr. who started online college this year, is ranked on both the senior and under-25 international standings–No. 3 on Quantico Ymas, No. 7 on Don Diego Ymas and No. 86 on Dhannie Ymas at under-25 while ranked 110 on Quantico in the senior rankings.
His talent and outgoing personality have made him a star on both sides of the Atlantic–2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 European Junior Championships, freestyle gold in 2015; World Young Horse Championships in 2015 on Jamaicano de Ymas III and 2017 on Copernico Ymas as well as the inaugural European Under-25 Championship in 2016 and again this August where on Quantico he finished third in the Grand Prix but the freestyle was canceled because of technical issues. He rode in Nations Cups in Wellington in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, both senior and under-25 teams on different horses this year.
He has competed at the premier shows in the world, including the World Equestrian Festival CHIO at Aachen, Germany placing second in the freestyle, the Rotterdam CHIO winning the musical performance and the invitational under-25 held in conjunction with the European Championships of dressage and jumping in Gothenburg, Sweden where he took both the Grand Prix and the Freestyle.
“I’m very happy with how things are at the moment,” he told dressage-news.com.
“I feel very fortunate to become a citizen of the United States. This is a huge privilege and I’m so thankful for the bravery my parents showed when they decided to take the leap forward to seek a future in this country. Who knows what the future might have in store for me.
“All I know is I would feel honored to represent Spain or the U.S. as I work my way up the ladder to the top of the sport. The truth is that my career as a dressage rider began here, in the USA. I still remember my first CDI competition as a junior rider with my loyal partner, Don Diego Ymas, in Jim Brandon during the (World Dressage) Masters as I watched and learned from the best national riders like: Steffen Peters, Adrienne Lyle, Heather Blitz, Tina Konyot, Lauren Sammis and Caroline Roffman. The experience I’ve had growing up surrounded by a community with such passion and dedication to the sport is very special.
“However, I’m so proud of riding for the nation where I was born.
“Every time I hear my national anthem played at a competition after a victory, I get goose bumps. Our history, our culture, our traditions. I love my country and everything about it. The day I make a final decision it will be very difficult.
“I will continue to root and cheer for my friends, the American riders, but the Spanish flag will remain on my competition jacket. For now, nothing will change.”