Thousands of people lined the streets and cheered on the runners when the Olympic flame passed through South Gippsland.

NEIL Warren almost had the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch snatched away from him as he ran with it through Leongatha.

Security pounced on a man who tried twice to grab the torch from Neil as he made his way from the Anglican Church, behind IGA and along Bair Street.

“I think he was a bit of a nutter,” Neil said.

Neil said it was a great experience carry the torch through his hometown of Leongatha with big crowds cheering him on.

At the time, Neil was a teacher and sports coordinator at Leongatha Secondary College and community volunteer with the Leongatha Lyric Theatre.

“It was easy to carry one-handed,” Neil said.

Neil’s torch currently sits on a stand in his loungeroom in Inverloch.

“It was a great day and it was great to have my family there as well,” he said.