City Of Portsmouth chairman Phil Budd said Emma Montiel epitomises what a club athlete can do, given the opportunity.
Montiel shared the track with Olympians in the Women’s 10,000m final on Tuesday night – finishing 13th – and Budd was proud of her achievement.
He said: ‘Emma representing Gibraltar at the Commonwealth Games means a genuine club athlete has a chance to perform on the biggest stage.
‘It’s a chance that most club athletes can only dream of.
‘It’s an opportunity that comes to very few of us and it really couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.
‘She’s very approachable and not on a pedestal like some of the elite athletes we’ve had before.
‘Some of them have been a little aloof and most operate at a different level that we can’t even think about.
‘It’s easier to identify with Emma because she’s a genuine, solid athlete. She is genuinely one of us.’
Dedicated as he is, Budd was actually coaching at the club at the time of Montiel’s big race but managed to watch it back soon afterwards on catch-up television.
He said: ‘Not many people have rubbed shoulders with Kenyan athletes and lived to tell the tale.
‘Everything is very, very different at a major championship so that will have been a real eye-opener for her.’
He added: ‘We’re looking forward to welcoming her back to Portsmouth.’
Montiel dedicated her run to Gerry North, who got her running in the first place.
Budd said: ‘There are an awful lot of athletes running in Gerry’s memory. They owe everything to Gerry.’
And that is certainly true for Montiel.
City of Portsmouth also had Paralympic athlete Olivia Breen representing Wales.
The 18-year-old came fourth in the F37/38 long jump with a personal best of 4.06m, achieving her pre-Commonwealth aim of finishing in the top five.
Budd, who has watched Breen since she was nine years old, said: ‘The one thing everyone says about Livvy is that whatever happens, she always enjoys it.
‘She always has a smile on her face.’
– SHAKILA BARABHUIYA