LONDON (Reuters) - Young Syrian show jumper Ahmad Saber Hamcho said on Saturday he was at the London 2012 Olympics to represent "all Syrians".
A civil war in Syria has intensified in the past few weeks, with fighting engulfing the country's capital Damascus and largest city Aleppo for the first time in a 17-month-old uprising against Assad family rule.
The 19-year-old, whose father faces sanctions in the United States and the European Union for managing the financial interests of Maher al-Assad, the brother of Syrian President Bashar, said he would not talk about politics.
"For sure I feel bad - it's my country," the London-based Hamcho, who posted a clear round in the first leg of the individual competition, said of the situation in Syria.
"But this gives us and all the Syrians positive energy because of what happened now, because of the clear round and we represent all Syrians."
Hamcho denied media reports that he was related to the Assad family.
"I read that they said I was related but I have no family relationship," he told reporters.
"I represent no one. I represent only my country and they should be proud of us, of athletes who are representing Syria."
His father Mohamed Hamcho was added to the European Union sanctions list in March and the U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list a month later.
Asked whether his father's situation affected his performance, Hamcho said: "My father gave me all the support to concentrate and do (my) best here. He said go there Ahmad for your country and only your country."
He said the conflict back at home was not a distraction for his performance on Wonderboy, a Belgian warmblood he acquired in 2010.
"I think it made it easier for me because I had more will to do better in the ring there," Hamcho said.
"I am very well pleased with my performance. My horse jumped fabulously there and we just hope the best for tomorrow and we hope the best for all three (of the other) Syrian athletes (still due to compete) here in London."
Hamcho notched up one fault for being over the regulation time on his round but qualified for the individual final on August 8 at Greenwich Park.
(Reporting by Sarah Edmonds, additional reporting by Khaled Oweis; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)