Paralympic champion ‘considering euthanasia’ after Rio Games

Summary

Flanders’ star Paralympic athlete, Marieke Vervoort, says that the Rio Games will be her last and that her physical condition has become unbearable

‘No one sees the dark side’

Flemish paralympian Marieke Vervoort has said she is considering euthanasia when the Paralympic Games, currently under way in Rio, are over. The athlete was speaking in an interview with the French newspaper Le Parisien and made similar comments in an interview in De Morgen earlier this summer.

Vervoort, 37, suffers from a degenerative spinal disease that has paralysed her from the waist down. She won a gold medals at the London Games in the 100m wheelchair sprint, silver in the 200m, and titles in the world championships last year. In Rio she will compete in the 100m and 400m.

It’s already clear that the Rio Games will be her last, she said. “Rio is my last wish,” she told the paper. “I’m training very hard, but I have to fight my illness day and night. I hope to end my career on a podium in Rio.”

Vervoort stated that training was her reason to go on living and that the end of her sports career could signal the end of everything. “I have a list of things I want to do, including aerobatics. And I’ve started thinking about euthanasia.” The procedure is legal in Belgium with medical approval.

“Everybody sees me smiling with my gold medal, but no one sees the dark side,” Vervoort told. “I suffer a lot, sometimes sleeping only 10 minutes a night. But I’m still going for the gold.”

Photo: Marieke Vervoort winning gold at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London

©Iliya Pitalev/BELGA