Mascot Lesik the baby fox looks after the European Games Flame ©Minsk 2019

With less than a fortnight until the Opening Ceremony in Minsk, the big names of Belarusian canoeing have taken centre stage in the European Games Torch Relay.

Eighty-two-year-old Leonid Geishtor, who won gold at the 1960 Games at Rome and was the first Belarusian Olympic champion, was visibly affected when he carried the Flame.

Marina Litvinchuck, a gold medallist at the 2015 European Games in Baku, carried the Flame as it visited a children's hospital and some of the patients released balloons to mark the occasion.

Two other canoeists were also appropriate choices as Torchbearers. 

Aliaksandr and Andrei Bahdanovic won Olympic gold at Beijing 2008 and also at the inaugural European Games in Baku four years ago.

Mountaineer Aleksandr Godlevsky renewed his acquaintance with the Flame having masterminded the ascent to the top of Mont Blanc a month ago.

Throughout the Relay, the Torch has visited factories and other industrial installations.

In Gomel, the cavalcade was greeted at the Gomselmash factory where it was taken aboard a super combine harvester, more formally called Polesye GS2124. 

It was carried by Tatayana Abel, artistic director of Valery Abel Circus.

"We hope Team Belarus will harvest a lot of medals," joked factory director Aleksandr Konopatsky.

"For our part we will do our best to help Belarus farmers harvest grain crops promptly and qualitatively."

There was a surprise for the Relay participants when they called in at the Spartak confectionery factory, described as the "sweetest" place in the city. 

The runners received a replica of the Torch in chocolate.

In Gomel, it travelled through the Belorusneft oil producing plant, where it was carried by cyclist Piotr Zhelezinsky.

"I am sure the European Games will demonstrate that Belarus is a hospitable country in love with sport," Zhelezinsky said.

Other Torchbearers included singer Ruslan Alekhno, who had burst to prominence in 2004, winning the Belarus talent show 'People’s Singer'.

He also sang the Belarusian entry at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest.

Vyacheslav Khoroneko and fireman Yevgeny Los both carried the Flame.

The pair have participated in the World's Strongest Man competition and have appeared in the Guinness Book of Records for their lifting feats.