Yulia Nesterenko carries the Flame for the second time ©Minsk 2019

Yulia Nesterenko carried the European Games Flame for the second time in little more than a week when the Minsk 2019 Torch Relay crossed the border into Belarus at Brest.

Nesterenko, who won 100 metres gold at Athens 2004, had been the first to do so when the Flame was lit at Ara Pacis in Rome 10 days ago.

On this occasion, children waving ribbons in the national colours of red, green and white lined the route.

"It is difficult to express emotions," said rower Natalia Gelakh, coxless pairs bronze medallist for Belarus at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

"I am very excited to be entrusted with this.

‘’It is great that the Relay starts in Brest. By doing this we will bring a lot of attention to the European Games and also raise the profile of sport. 

"A lot has been done to develop sport in our country.’’

Brest was mentioned in the Primary Chronicle, an ancient Russian text known as "a tale of bygone years". 

The city is said to have been founded in 1019 AD. 

Yulia Nesterenko has been a key figure in the Torch Relay ©Minsk 2019
Yulia Nesterenko has been a key figure in the Torch Relay ©Minsk 2019

Mayor Aleksandr Rogachuk said: "This is a special honour for the city, marking its 1,000th birthday.

"Brest welcomes the Flame which symbolises peace and creation, not war and destruction."

The Torch had crossed the border from Poland with motorcycle outriders The One Chapter Belarus and it was their leader Yevgeny Beyzak who carried the special safety lamp to the stage to begin the domestic Relay.

On hand to greet it was Igor Petrishenko, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus.

"The Flame travelled thousands of kilometres through seven European countries before it reached Belarus," he said. 

"We welcome it in Brest, the symbolic gate of our motherland."

Soldiers laid a wreath at Brest Fortress memorial where a few days earlier, the end of the Second World War had been commemorated.

The Flame will visit the major towns of the Brest Oblast region and will also be taken through the national park as it continues its journey towards Minsk for the European Games Opening Ceremony on June 21.