Marieke Vervoort: Belgian Paralympian dies from euthanasia aged 40

She had spikey hair and wanted to be remembered as the lady who was “always laughing, always smiling”


Belgian Paralympian Marieke Vervoort and winner of the 100m at the 2012 London Games has died by euthanasia at the age of 40.

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium and the athlete, who had an incurable, degenerative spinal disease, had previously announced her intentions to follow that path if her condition worsened.

On Tuesday, Vervoort signed the papers to end her life in her home country. A statement from her home city of Diest said Vervoort “responded to her choice on Tuesday evening”.

Despite falling ill at age 14 she, the Paralympian pursued a successful sporting career, she had a passion for wheelchair basketball, swimming and racing triathlons.

In 2012, Vervoort won gold and silver medals at the London Paralympics in wheelchair racing, and two more medals three years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

At Rio, Vervoort described living with the condition. She talked of sleeping only 10 minutes some nights, described severe pain that caused others to pass out just watching her, and detailed how sports kept her alive.

“It’s too hard for my body,” Vervoort said in the 2016 interview. “Each training I’m suffering because of pain. Every race I train hard.

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