Support praised as our seafront party on Southsea Common is the biggest yet

FLAGS Youngsters cheer the Olympic torch in Portsmouth
FLAGS Youngsters cheer the Olympic torch in Portsmouth

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ORGANISERS have praised the people of Portsmouth for putting on the biggest party in the country to welcome the Olympic flame.

Between 65,000 and 70,000 people packed Southsea Common on Sunday to welcome torchbearers after their journey through our area.

LIMBERING UP  Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas at Fratton Park. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (122403-30)

LIMBERING UP Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas at Fratton Park. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122403-30)

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) said it was the biggest turnout so far.

A Locog spokeswoman said: ‘We are thrilled with the number of people who turned out.

‘Thank you to the people of Portsmouth for making it such an excellent and memorable evening.’

The second-largest evening celebration for the Olympic torch relay was a 50,000-strong crowd at Plymouth Hoe in May.

Elsewhere, Fareham Borough Council estimated there were 25,000 people in the town on Sunday in the shopping precinct and along the A32. Similar numbers lined the route through Gosport.

The relay finished with a party on Southsea Common with duo Rizzle Kicks.

And Portsmouth had the honour of the torch staying in the city overnight.

Yesterday the Olympic flame passed through Fratton Park before heading to Petersfield.

But it isn’t over for everybody from our area, as some torchbearers have yet to complete their journey, in other parts of the country.

Veteran sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, of Gosport, and record-breaking rower Tom Heal, from Petersfield, will carry torches in London and Brighton this week.

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Frank Jonas, said: ‘It doesn’t surprise me that Portsmouth has had the biggest turnout because we always come together for these events.

‘I was proud of the enthusiasm shown by young people.’