Enrico Dall'Olmo won gold for San Marino ©ITG

Enrico Dall'Olmo might just return home as the biggest sports star in San Marino after his Mediterranean Games gold medal here at the Campclar Velodrome in Tarragona.

He wears a bandana as he plays and his team-mates call him "Torrero" - The Bullfighter. 

He is now a Mediterranean Games champion in rafa vollo, a variation of boules that is now an integral part of these Games.

In the final he beat Italy's Alfonso Nanni 12-2, and cried with delight at the moment of victory.

"It is emotional and unique," he said. 

"There has been a lot of sacrifice made to do this. 

"We are very competitive in boules in San Marino."

Dall'Olmo has been travelling to Italy every Sunday to play.

"The Italians are very good sportsmen," he said.

"I won silver at the World Games but this is the most important moment for me.

"It is the first time I have heard our national anthem at an event."

Dall'Olmo was interviewed for San Marino's television service and his flamboyant style of play will surely have won him a lot of new fans back home. 

At 22, he will become a "poster boy" for the younger generation.

With a team of only 29, drawn from a population of around 30,000, San Marino's team is tiny in comparison with the Italians who brought 502, a larger contingent even than host nation Spain. 

Team members and coaches from other sports turned up in force at the velodrome in the expectation of a victory over their giant neighbours.

"There's generally a lot of cooperation between San Marino and their neighbours from Italy but that stops for now, this is sport," they said as they watched almost in silence as the drama unfolded.

"San Marino beating Italy certainly wouldn't happen in football," added National Olympic Committee secretary Eros Bologna.

Celebrations continue after the San Marino gold medal ©ITG
Celebrations continue after the San Marino gold medal ©ITG

In the early days, all Mediterranean Games competitions were amateur in keeping with regulations laid down in the era of International Olympic Committee President Baron Pierre de Coubertin. 

Most sportsmen and women in San Marino remain amateur.

"Normally sport in our country is not professional," said Bologna.

"And so these are workers and it's a very De Coubertin way of feeling their sport."

The Italian National Olympic Committee and San Marino have an understanding which allows Sammarinese athletes to compete in Italy.

"We have a population of 30,000 and as an NOC we have had an agreement with Italy that our clubs can play in Italy with the Italians," Bologna said. 

"For us this is a very big thing. 

"We can go a hundred kilometres or whatever and play as the Italians do.

"That is very useful for us to be able to play in their competitions. 

"In individual sports we can reach the heights."

Dall'Olmo's semi final victory against Malta's Stefan Farrugia was a marvellous but tense contest which had finished 9-7 but it was in the spirit of these Games that after the final Farrugia was one of the first on the scene to congratulate his erstwhile rival after his gold medal success.

"I am very pleased to see a gold medal go to a small country," he said.

San Marino will take home two gold medals from Tarragona. 

Shooter Alessandra Perilli won gold in the women's trap a week ago.

Perilli finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympics and has become another standard bearer for San Marino.

"When she came back from London a father brought his son to the shooting range and said if she can do it so can my son, that's the example," said Bologna.