Controversy has overshadowed the achievements of 18-year-old Ahmad Saber Hamcho – the first Syrian rider to qualify for the Olympics – because of his family’s links to president Bashar al-Assad.

President Assad’s brutal crackdown on the civil uprising in Syria has left around 14,000 dead.

Mr Hamcho almost swiped the Hickstead Speed Derby from Trevor Breen, but neither his father nor the head of the Syrian Olympic committee will be at Greenwich to watch him, as they are banned from the UK.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (5 July 2012)