The 2016 Paralympics in Rio could be a bittersweet event for Belgian athlete Marieke Vervoort. After what would be her last Olympics, she is reportedly contemplating taking advantage of Belgium’s legal euthanasia for critically ill individuals.
Adelaide Now reports that Marieke Vervoort was struck by a rare degenerative disease back in 2000. She has since tried her hand in several Paralympic sports such as wheelchair basketball, Paralympic triathlon and the Hawaiian Ironman.
In the last Paralympic Games in London 2012, she won a gold medal in the T52 class 100m sprint. She also won a silver in the 200m category. In the 2016 Paralympics, she is aiming to win her final medals before possibly concluding her athletic career and her life.
“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,” she said. She knows that the competition will be tough, and it will be made even harder by her progressing illness.
Vervoort has been suffering from fatigue and sleepless nights that are brought about by her illness. She explains that training for the Olympics has been her main focus, but people are only able to see the success and not everything else that goes on behind the scenes. “Everybody sees me laughing with my gold medal, but no one sees the dark side, I suffer greatly, sometimes sleeping only ten minutes a night — and still go for the gold,” she said.
It is still unclear if Vervoort will push through with her plans to end her life. What is clear, is that she will be trying her best to win more medals in the 2016 Paralympics, which will start today. She is set to start her gold medal bid on Friday in the T52 400m competition.