Rio de Janeiro - Belgian
Paralympian Marieke Vervoort, who shocked and saddened the world with
her revelation that she wants to be euthanised, says she's not ready to
die quite yet.
Vervoort said in Rio on Sunday that she's still considering
euthanasia to escape a life of unbearable physical pain - only not now.
A silver medal on Saturday in the 400m wheelchair race at the Rio
Paralympics has helped remind her of the good things she's been living
But at a press conference where she showed off the medal and flashed a
victory sign, she also talked soberly about how she may end it all.
Reports ahead of the Paralympics that she planned to be euthanised -
which is legal in Belgium - right after the Games were wrong, Vervoort
The time, though, may still come.
"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," she told journalists.
She confirmed that this would be her last competition and that she had signed the paperwork to be euthanised back in 2008.
Vervoort, 37, suffers a
degenerative muscle disease that causes constant pain, paralysis in her
legs and leaves her barely able to sleep. She was just 14 when the
diagnosis was made and gradually her life became torture.
A Paralympic 100m gold medalist and 200m silver medalist in the 2012
London Games, her silver in Rio caps a distinguished career in a sport
that she loves.
Next comes trying to appreciate her life off the track, she said, but
euthanasia will always be there as an option if things get too painful.
"After the Paralympic Games, when I quit, I'm going to enjoy every
little moment in my life and I'm going to put more energy in my family
and friends, which I couldn't do with top sports because I had to train
every day," she said.
Vervoort described her physical condition as a constant battle,
saying her eyesight was "very bad. I see only 20 percent and I have a
lot of epileptic attacks. What's next?"
The ability to be legally euthanized, she said, actually gave her the
courage to keep going as long as she has. Ironically, this talented
sportswoman has become something of a spokeswoman for the controversial
Vervoort said euthanasia must not be characterized as "murder."
"It gives a feeling of rest to people," she said.
"If I hadn't gotten those (euthanasia) papers I think I would already
have committed suicide because it's very hard to live with so much pain
and suffering and this unsureness.
"I know when it's enough for me, I have those papers," she added.