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Olympic flame bids farewell to Southampton
The Olympic flame finally left Southampton this morning after an incredible 12 hour stop over in the city.
Thousands of people roused themselves early today to bid a final farewell to the Olympic torch as it left the city from Southampton Airport.
Energised by the occasion the excited crowds cheered on waving their red white and blue flags before parting to allow the first torch bearer, to carry the flame away from the city’s Guildhall as the Civic Centre clock struck 6am.
Despite the early hours people jogged behind the torch bearers as they made their way along London Road before turning on The Avenue.
Looking on were bleary eyed revellers who raised their cans as the procession past.
Meanwhile marshalls had a job controlling the crowd as people tried to keep up and snatch a photograph of the torch bearers.
But by the time it reached its final point near the Common the vast majority of the crowd had given up and only a handful watched the eternal flame be transferred in its jar into a coach to Southampton Airport.
There is was put on a plane for a day visit to the Channel Islands before making a return to Hampshire this afternoon.
The first of the day's 82 torchbearers was Michael Stroud, 57, from Langley, Berkshire, who was nominated by Sir Ranulph Fiennes for his accomplishments in worldwide expeditions and his work for charity, hospital medicine and nutritional care.
An Olympics spokesman said: ''Mike and Sir Ranulph's expeditions included the first unsupported walk across Antarctica, and running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
''These and other journeys raised more than £4 million for medical charities and led to Mike receiving an OBE for human endeavour and services to charity.''
After touring Guernsey, the flame will fly on to Jersey before returning to the mainland.
From Gosport it will travel by passenger ferry, accompanied by Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Exploit, to Portsmouth where it will visit the historic dockyard, home of HMS Victory, the world's oldest commissioned warship.
Colette Hayes, 18, from Southampton will carry the flame on to the ship, on board which Nelson was killed during the Battle of Trafalgar.
Colette was nominated by the British Olympic Association for her commitment and dedication to coaching gymnastics.
Another torchbearer in Portsmouth will be Bianca Kopp, an Austrian national and staff member of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The 31-year-old survived a terrorist attack on the United Nations House in Abuja, Nigeria, on August 26 2011.
The attack killed 25 people, including one UNODC staff member, Ingrid Midtgaard, a 30-year-old Norwegian national, and 10 other United Nations staff members.
Ms Kopp said: ''I carry this torch to remember my departed colleagues who so needlessly lost their lives.''
The last torchbearer of the day, Jonathan Bamber, 26, from Portsmouth, will carry the flame into the evening celebration on Southsea Common.
He was selected through the Samsung campaign for chasing after, and catching up, with fleeing criminals offenders.