Paralympian Marieke Vervoort considering euthanasia

Marieke Vervoort celebrates her silver medal. Credit: Reuters

Silver-medal winning Paralympian Marieke Vervoort has said she is still considering euthanasia, but contrary to reports will not be doing so after the Rio Games.

The 37-year-old Belgian, who came second in the 400 metres wheelchair race on Saturday, suffers from an incurable and degenerative spinal condition and signed euthanasia papers in 2008 in Belgium, where it is legal.

Before the Games Belgian media reported that she might decide to end her life after Rio, but at an emotional media conference on Sunday, Vervoort rejected the claims.

I have my (euthanasia) papers in my hand, but I'm still enjoying every little moment. When the moment comes when I have more bad days than good days, then I have my euthanasia papers, but the time is not there yet.

Marieke Vervoort speaking at a press conference
Marieke Vervoort competes in Rio. Credit: Reuters

Vervoort also won gold in the 100 metres and silver in the 200 metres at the London Paralympic Games, but confirmed that Rio would be her last competitive appearance.

The Paralympian added that having the choice to end her life gave her hope and strength and encouraged a dialogue on assisted dying in countries around the world.

When I didn't have those papers, I would have committed suicide. > I hope other countries like Brazil can talk about it. It makes people live longer. It doesn't mean that when people sign the papers, they have to die two weeks later. I signed my papers in 2008. Look now, 2016 and I won the silver medal. Now my fear of death is gone. Assisted death is something like they operate on you, you go to sleep and never wake. It feels like it will be peaceful. I don't want to suffer when I die. >

Marieke Vervoort speaking at a press conference