Gay Paralympic champion considering euthanasia after Rio games
Marieke Vervoort says the 2016 Paralympics will be her last.
One of the nine openly LGBT athletes competing in this year’s Paralympics, Marieke Vervoort says the Rio games will be her last.
The Belgian wheelchair sprinter – who won a gold and silver medal in London – suffers from a incurable, degenerative spinal disease.
Vervoort has been confined to a wheelchair since 2000 and says her condition has grown so painful that she is considering euthanasia in order to end her suffering.
“I will stop my career after [the] Rio [Paralympics]. After, we shall see what life brings for me,” the 37-year-old wheelchair sprinter told RTL radio.
“I started thinking about euthanasia.”
Detailing the struggles she faces every day, Vervoort revealed that “Rio is my last wish”.
“Everybody sees me laugh with my gold medal, but no one sees the dark side,” she told French newspaper Le Parisien.
“I suffer greatly, sometimes sleeping only ten minutes a night – and still go for the gold.”
In July, the athlete recorded an online diary entry, in which she revealed the effects of her condition, which has rapidly worsened.
“Fortunately I had a better night even though I had a moment of crisis for about 45 minutes,” she said.
“With me this morning, it felt like I had slept only an hour, but that was not the case.
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“My body is just exhausted. I let the nurse give me a shot of morphine and this morning went purely on character to the training.”
Vervoort has also shared plans for her funeral, which she hopes will be a celebration of her achievements rather a sorrowful occasion.
“I want everyone to have a glass of champagne in hand, and a thought for me.”
Euthanasia was legalised in Belgium in 2002, and can take place with the written consent of three doctors.
Relive Vervoort’s London 2012 Paralympic glory below: