Belgian wheelchair racer Marieke Vervoort, the silver medalist in the women’s 400 meters T52 event here at the Rio 2016 Paralmypic Games, has spoken out today about plans to end her own life through euthanasia.
The 37-year-old has publicly contemplated euthanasia due to a degenerative muscle disease, which leaves her in agony and struggling to sleep.
Pre-Games reports suggested that Vervoort intended to end her own life after Rio 2016, but she said today that is “totally out of the question.”
Vervoort signed euthanasia papers in 2008, giving her the freedom to end her life when she chooses.
The practice has been legal in Belgium since 2002.
“I have a progressive disease and I have my euthanasia papers already in 2008 because it’s really, really hard to handle and to suffer with this disease, but the euthanasia, it gives me a feeling of rest,” she said, in a highly emotional press conference. “I can live with a good feeling, whatever happens, I have my papers in my hand. But I’m still enjoying every single moment.
“When the moment comes that I have more bad days than good days, then I have my euthanasia papers, but the time is not there yet.”
Vervoort plans to retire from Para-athletics after Rio 2016, and will be aiming to go out on a high by defending her women’s 100m T52 crown on Saturday, Sept. 17.
“On the 17th, I’m going to push as hard as I can,” she said. “I’m going to push my arms out of my body and then I think when I finish it’s going to be very, very hard. I don’t know which place I will have, it doesn’t matter, but I think I’m going to cry very hard because it will be my last time that I will be in a racing chair.”
Speaking about her plans after Rio 2016, Vervoort said she has a bucket list to complete.
“When I was a child, I was sitting just for a picture in an F16 and I really want to fly with someone in an F16,” she said. “My dream also is to go once to Japan because before I had my disease I had a brown belt in jiu-jitsu and I was totally a freak of Japan.
“In my bedroom, I wanted to have my mattress on the ground.
“I wanted to eat with the sticks.
“I love to travel and to visit every country, but it’s getting more and more difficult to do it because I need a lot of assistance to help me in the shower, the medical things.”
Vervoort added: “I’m going to enjoy life with my friends and family and maybe I’m planning to do lots of inspirational talks in schools, for people at work.
“I want to inspire people that they have to live day-by-day and enjoy every little moment.
“Everybody can have a car accident tomorrow and die, or have a heart attack and die, and please, enjoy every little moment.
“It can be over tomorrow for anybody.”
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz