Belgian Paralympian Marieke Vervoort has died through euthanasia at the age of 40 years. Vervoort, who took the decision to end her own life two years ago, won gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics and a silver at Rio 2016.
She had an incurable degenerative spinal disease that caused continuous pain, seizures and paralysis in her legs.
Diest, Vervoort’s home city, said in a statement she “responded to her choice on Tuesday evening.”
In an interview to The Telegraph in 2017, Vervoort had revealed that the pain had become unbearable and she didn’t wish to suffer anymore. She had also expressed her wish that white butterflies be released from a red box upon her death.
“It can be that I feel very, very bad, I get an epileptic attack, I cry, I scream because of pain,” she had told BBC in an interview. “I need a lot of painkillers, valium, morphine. “A lot of people ask me how is it possible that you can have such good results and still be smiling with all the pain and medication that eats your muscles. For me, sports, and racing with a wheelchair – it’s a kind of medication.”
Vervoort won gold in the T52 100m wheelchair race and a silver in T52 200m wheelchair race at London 2012.
She suffered from progressive tetraplegia that left her paralysed. To recover, she started playing wheelchair basketball before moving on to triathlon. But the condition worsened in 2008 following which she took up wheelchair sprinting.
According to Daily Mail, the worsening condition resulted in severe pain that at times left her unconscious and the sight of her suffering resulted in others passing out.
Euthanasia is legal in Belgium and can be done following written consent of three doctors.