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Belgian Paralympian Considering Euthanasia After Rio 2016

September 8, 2016

Belgian Paralympic champion Marieke Vervoort has mixed feelings about Rio. She is aiming for gold to add to her medal haul, but when the Games end, she is considering coming home to plan her funeral.
The wheelchair sprinter, 37, who will compete in the 100m and 200m sprints in the coming weeks, has described victory in Rio as her “last wish” before she returns home to considers taking her own life.
She won gold in the 100m sprint in her T52 class, and silver in the 200m at London four years ago, but she suffers from an incurable degenerative disease and is now considering euthanasia, which has been legal in Belgium since 2002.
Hopes for gold
“I want everyone to have a glass of champagne in hand, and a thought for me,” she told French newspaper Le Parisien. “I have started thinking about euthanasia.”
She added: “Everybody sees me laugh with my gold medal, but no one sees the dark side.”
In the lead-up to Rio, Vervoort had said that growing health conferences meant the competition in Rio would be her farewell to paralympic sport, but had struggled with the decision of whether or not to take her own life.

She told the newspaper: “I suffer greatly, sometimes sleeping only ten minutes a night – and still go for the gold. Rio is my last wish. I train very hard even if I have to fight day and night against my illness. I hope to finish my career on a podium in Rio.”

Vervoort will begin her 2016 Paralympics with the T52 400m event on Friday night. She begins her 100m title defence next Friday morning.

She added that she will then “see what life brings” and insisted she will continue to “try and enjoy the best moments”.

A hard struggle

However a combination of fatigue from sleepless nights and the agony of her condition means Vervoort faints regularly at home, woken only by her dog licking her face.

Vervoort has made no final decision over euthanasia, she told the French newspaper, but has drawn up a “bucket list” of events and activities to enjoy before she dies.

On her website, the athlete writes regular diary updates for her fan, many of which had focused on her health.

In July, she wrote: “When I sit in my racing chair, everything disappears. I expel all the dark thoughts, I fight fear, sadness, suffering, frustration. That’s how I won the gold medals.”

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