As the New Zealand anthem played and Amanda Landers-Murphy stood atop the podium with a Commonwealth Games gold medal around her neck, those most pleased for her were the ones who have watched her grow as a person and an athlete.

The 26-year-old, born and bred in Rotorua, has a loyal following back home who watched eagerly as she played her heart out on the world stage.

Annette Joyce, who was Rotorua Girls' High School principal when Landers-Murphy was a student there, said her effort was "absolutely magnificent".

She is just a very friendly, outgoing, thoughtful young woman and what she has achieved is amazing.

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"It's so special to be able to enjoy an occasion like that when you know it's a local person who is there. I think the whole Commonwealth Games is a great exercise, it's lovely and it really does make people appreciate what they've got in their own back yard. Having Amanda there was marvellous," Joyce said.

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She said Landers-Murphy was a great role model for young women and had always been eager to promote squash while at school.

"Amanda was very quiet and had a lovely circle of friends. She did very well academically and she was a prefect. Squash became her major activity as she moved through the school and I think it's typical of what Amanda is like that she was very keen to promote squash in the school. She got a lot of other girls interested in it, I can remember her talking about it to the girls in assembly and she was very good, if girls were interested, at taking them down and showing them what the sport is all about.

"She handled herself at the Commonwealth Games in exactly the same way, I thought, as she did at school. She is still very modest and the way she reacted on court on several occasions showed she is just a very friendly, outgoing, thoughtful young woman and what she has achieved is amazing.

"Having a dream and having an ambition and then working it through in your 20s are two different things and Amanda has managed to do the second one, which not many people do. You've got to have real stickability to do that," she said.

Amanda Landers-Murphy (right) and Joelle King celebrate winning gold at the Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty Images
Amanda Landers-Murphy (right) and Joelle King celebrate winning gold at the Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty Images

Geyser City Squash club captain Dahna Fleming said it was "amazing" to see Landers-Murphy's hard work pay off.

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"We've watched her train for so long, so to see it all pay off for her was just awesome," Fleming said.

While she said Landers-Murphy was a good role model for juniors coming through at the club, she was disappointed at the lack of coverage the Commonwealth Games squash tournaments had on television.

"It will be interesting to see [whether Landers-Murphy's achievements result in a spike in junior numbers]. I know that our juniors at the club think she's amazing. I actually know Joelle quite well too, because I used to live in Cambridge, and her and Amanda are both such down-to-earth people, they're not too good for anyone.

"Amanda is very dedicated to what she's doing, it takes a lot of discipline to be that dedicated, especially in a sport that you don't get much financial backing for. She's fantastic and she doesn't mind helping us out either, that says a lot about her character," she said.

"We're going to try and organise a homecoming for Amanda at the club, to celebrate what she's done, she deserves it."

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said Landers-Murphy was now part of a proud Rotorua squash legacy which included the likes of Dame Susan Devoy.

"A huge congratulations to Amanda, we're all very proud. Sporting excellence at international level justifies all the time, effort and resources invested over time by volunteers, coaches, parents, clubs and the athletes themselves.

"This grassroots investment is what helps to grow sporting eco-systems that promote people from beginners and weekend warriors right through to international level. It's really great to see international talent continuing to emerge from our district," Chadwick said.