Syrian athletes Ghufran Almohamad and Bayan Jumah (right) carry their national flag
Syrian athletes Ghufran Almohamad and Bayan Jumah (right) carry their national flag during the flag raising ceremony at the Olympic village in London, July 2012. Jumah tried to put the conflict raging in her hometown of Aleppo aside and focus on fulfilling her long-anticipated Olympic dream. © Saeed Khan - AFP/File
Syrian athletes Ghufran Almohamad and Bayan Jumah (right) carry their national flag
AFP
Last updated: August 1, 2012

Syrian swimmer tries to focus on Olympic Games

Syrian swimmer Bayan Jumah tried to put the conflict raging in her hometown of Aleppo aside Wednesday and focus on fulfilling her long-anticipated Olympic dream.

"I come from Aleppo in Syria, I have family there. In the city center, there is nothing," said the 18-year-old, who has been training in France for the past 18 months with the help of an Olympic Scholarship awarded through the Syrian Olympic Committee.

The conflict in Syria's commercial capital of Aleppo has raged since July 20, with regime troops and rebels sending reinforcements to the city for a battle that one Syrian security source said was likely to last for weeks.

Although she didn't qualify for the 100m freestyle semi-finals, posting the 40th-fastest time in Wednesday's heats, 6.5 seconds behind top qualifier Tang Yi of China, Jumah said she was proud to represent her stricken country.

"I am here to represent Syria, it is a dream for everyone to participate in the Olympics," she said.

"I hope all the problems back home don't last much longer," Jumah said, thanking those back home who had offered her support.

"I am hoping to go home soon, but I am not sure if or how we will get into the city."

Jumah said she wasn't much interested in the forces driving the conflict in her homeland.

"I don't care very much about the political things in Syria, I don't need it. I just focus on my swimming and studies, that's it," said Jumah, who wasn't so divorced from political issues at the Beijing Games four years ago.

Then just 14, she pulled out of the 50m freestyle heats rather than start next to an Israeli swimmer.

© AFP 2012

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