The grand prix dressage rider talks to Polly Bryan about surviving a brain bleed this year, and why he is feeling more ambitious than ever
Like so many, Juan Matute Guimón started 2020 full of high hopes for the year ahead. The 22-year-old Spaniard had just landed a career-best score with his top horse Quantico, he was on track for a place at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas, and a spot on Spain’s Olympic team looked well within reach for the son of the three-time Spanish Olympian Juan Matute Snr. But while it was the coronavirus pandemic that stole the dreams of sports people across the world, Juan faced a much tougher struggle.
On 5 May, Juan collapsed while riding at home and was airlifted to hospital in Madrid, with a bleed on the brain. Two operations ensued, as doctors battled to save his life, followed by 25 days in a coma, with medics and his family unsure of the long-lasting effects once he awoke.
“I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the day that it hit me, and I’m starting to remember more,” Juan tells me from his base in Spain, as we chat over Zoom, three months after he was first hospitalised.