Mar 25, 2019

Captain Mendívil-Yucupicio Award Honors International Competitors

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Ryan Wood and Fernhill Classic at the 2017 Kentucky Three-Day Event. RedBayStock.com Photo.

The Captain Mendívil-Yucupicio Award was presented by the USEA Foundation for the first time at the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. This new award, generously donated by Pam Duffy of Temecula, California, honors an international rider competing in the United States who has demonstrated integrity and good sportsmanship. Australian rider Ryan Wood was the inaugural recipient.

Manuel Mendívil-Yucupicio was born in Huatabampo, Sonora in Mexico in 1935. At the age of 17, Mendívil-Yucupicio entered the Heroico Colegio Militar in Popotla, Mexico City, where he showed prowess riding in the cavalry.

He first represented Mexico in international competition in Brazil in 1963, going on compete in eventing for Mexico at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. In 1967, Mendívil-Yucupicio rode for Mexico in the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, bringing home the individual bronze medal in show jumping.

Mendívil-Yucupicio returned to the Pan American Games in 1971 in Cali, Colombia, this time taking home the individual gold medal in eventing. Following his success, he was named to the Mexican team for the 1972 Munich Olympics. He competed at the Pan American Games a third time in 1975 in Mexico City, Mexico, contributing to an eventing team bronze medal.

Mendívil-Yucupicio retired from his role as a Captain in the Mexican Military after the 1975 Pan American Games and moved to Europe to continue training. In 1980, he won the team bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Excelsior Archives Photo.

After the Moscow Olympics, Mendívil-Yucupicio returned to Mexico to train the next generation of horses and riders, including his son, Escipion Mendívil, who would go on to represent Mexico in international competition.

Following Mendívil-Yucupicio’s death in 2015, Pam Duffy wanted to find a way to honor his legacy. “He never actually coached me,” Duffy explained, “but I moved my horses to the place where he was training and coaching and got to know him that way. I think we’re both introverts, so it wasn’t like, ‘Hi, it’s so nice to meet you!’ but I started to really respect him.”

“He was a horse whisperer type of person – very Zen – and at that time I wasn’t quite as Zen,” she continued. “It was a quiet admiration. He was a role model for a lot of people. He was determined, and consistent, and disciplined, and I think young people these days need to appreciate the importance of those traits.”

Duffy’s hope is that the award will both honor Mendívil-Yucupicio’s memory while rewarding riders that demonstrate the traits he possessed. “It’s about grace under pressure and it’s about doggedly continuing on, even under difficult circumstances,” Duffy concluded. “Just because things are history doesn’t mean there aren’t far-reaching tendrils to the future.”

Wood, who has ridden at the highest level of the sport since he was just 19 years old and in 2018 finished in eighth place in the CCI4* at Les Etoiles de Pau, said he was thrilled to have been named as the inaugural recipient. “Mendivil-Yucupicio was a great horseman, winning a bronze medal at the Moscow Olympic Games, and it was an honor to be named for this award in 2018,” he said. “Thank you to Pamala Duffy for bringing this award to the United States.”

USEA Photo.

The $5,000 Captain Mendivil-Yucupicio Award is presented annually at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention to a deserving individual selected by the Review Committee based on the following selection criteria:

  • Demonstrates integrity;
  • Shows strong determination;
  • Is tenacious;
  • Demonstrates overall good sportsmanship;
  • Has experienced struggles but worked to overcome them;
  • Has financial need; and
  • Is not a U.S. citizen, but a member in good standing with the USEA who compete internationally.

Please visit the USEA Foundation website for additional information.

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