A London Paralympics gold medallist has died through euthanasia at the age of 40 – two years after revealing she was planning to end her life.

Marieke Vervoort, from Belgium, who stunned the world of sport when she won silver in a wheel chair race in the Rio games, had an incurable degenerative spinal disease.

The inspirational athlete signed paperwork in 2008 that would allow a doctor to end her life in the future, in her home country where assisted dying is legal.

A statement from Diest – where Vervoort was from near Brussels – simply said she ‘responded to her choice on Tuesday evening’.

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Marieke Vervoort (pictured streaking to victory at the London Paralympics in 2012), from Belgium, who stunned the world of sport when she won silver in a wheel chair race in the Rio games, had incurable degenerative spinal disease

Marieke Vervoort (pictured streaking to victory at the London Paralympics in 2012), from Belgium, who stunned the world of sport when she won silver in a wheel chair race in the Rio games, had incurable degenerative spinal disease

Marieke Vervoort (pictured streaking to victory at the London Paralympics in 2012), from Belgium, who stunned the world of sport when she won silver in a wheel chair race in the Rio games, had incurable degenerative spinal disease

The inspirational athlete (pictured) signed paperwork in 2008 that would allow a doctor to end her life in the future, in her home country where assisted dying is legal

The inspirational athlete (pictured) signed paperwork in 2008 that would allow a doctor to end her life in the future, in her home country where assisted dying is legal

The inspirational athlete (pictured) signed paperwork in 2008 that would allow a doctor to end her life in the future, in her home country where assisted dying is legal

A statement from Diest - where she was from near Brussels - simply said Vervoort 'responded to her choice on Tuesday evening'. Pictured in Doha, Qatar, next to the US's Kerry Morgan in 2015 as taking gold

A statement from Diest - where she was from near Brussels - simply said Vervoort 'responded to her choice on Tuesday evening'. Pictured in Doha, Qatar, next to the US's Kerry Morgan in 2015 as taking gold

A statement from Diest – where she was from near Brussels – simply said Vervoort ‘responded to her choice on Tuesday evening’. Pictured in Doha, Qatar, next to the US’s Kerry Morgan in 2015 as taking gold

In a recent post on Vervoort's Twitter, she smiled with her beloved dog Zenn on her hospital bed

In a recent post on Vervoort's Twitter, she smiled with her beloved dog Zenn on her hospital bed

In a recent post on Vervoort’s Twitter, she smiled with her beloved dog Zenn on her hospital bed

Vervoort had spoken openly about being unable to sleep, as her eyesight disappeared and painkillers became less effective against her agonising seizures.

It had initially been reported the brave Paralympian intended to die after the Games in Brazil when she told a French newspaper the Rio Paralympics was her ‘last wish’.

After she said she did not plan to die immediately but when her ‘bad days outnumber the good’.

Vervoort in Doha

Vervoort in Doha

She had spoken openly about being unable to sleep, as her eyesight disappeared and painkillers became less effective against her agonising seizures

She had spoken openly about being unable to sleep, as her eyesight disappeared and painkillers became less effective against her agonising seizures

Vervoort (left, in Doha, and right, in hospital) had spoken openly about being unable to sleep, as her eyesight disappeared and painkillers became less effective against her agonising seizures

It had initially been reported the brave Paralympian intended to die after the Games in Brazil (pictured) when she told a French newspaper the Rio Paralympics was her 'last wish'

It had initially been reported the brave Paralympian intended to die after the Games in Brazil (pictured) when she told a French newspaper the Rio Paralympics was her 'last wish'

It had initially been reported the brave Paralympian intended to die after the Games in Brazil (pictured) when she told a French newspaper the Rio Paralympics was her ‘last wish’

The inspirational athlete Vervoort is seen playing with her Labrador Zenn as she sits in a hospital bed on October 1

The inspirational athlete Vervoort is seen playing with her Labrador Zenn as she sits in a hospital bed on October 1

She lies with a beloved dog in bed

She lies with a beloved dog in bed

The inspirational athlete Vervoort is seen playing with her Labrador Zenn (left and right) as she lies in a hospital bed

In an interview the Telegraph in 2017, Vervoort said from her hospital bed the pain had become too much, adding: ‘I don’t want to suffer any more.’

She spoke with her pet Labrador Zenn by her side, saying she had already thought about every detail of her death and had written letters to her loved-ones.

Vervoort said at the time she wanted white butterflies to be released from a red box when she died, as well as her ashes to be scattered in the sea off Lanzarote where she spent Christmases since 2008.

In an interview the Telegraph in 2017, Vervoort (pictured during the London Paralympics) said from her hospital bed the pain had become too much, adding: 'I don't want to suffer any more'

In an interview the Telegraph in 2017, Vervoort (pictured during the London Paralympics) said from her hospital bed the pain had become too much, adding: 'I don't want to suffer any more'

In an interview the Telegraph in 2017, Vervoort (pictured during the London Paralympics) said from her hospital bed the pain had become too much, adding: ‘I don’t want to suffer any more’

She spoke with her pet Labrador Zenn (pictured together) by her side, adding she had already thought about every detail of her death and had written letters to her loved-ones

She spoke with her pet Labrador Zenn (pictured together) by her side, adding she had already thought about every detail of her death and had written letters to her loved-ones

She spoke with her pet Labrador Zenn (pictured together) by her side, adding she had already thought about every detail of her death and had written letters to her loved-ones

Her pain was so severe at times that she would lose consciousness, and said the sight of her in agony has caused others to pass out

Her pain was so severe at times that she would lose consciousness, and said the sight of her in agony has caused others to pass out

Her pain was so severe at times that she would lose consciousness, and said the sight of her in agony has caused others to pass out

To aid her recovery, she started playing wheelchair basketball before building up to triathlon and competing in the 2007 Hawaii Ironman. Pictured: In Rio in 2016

To aid her recovery, she started playing wheelchair basketball before building up to triathlon and competing in the 2007 Hawaii Ironman. Pictured: In Rio in 2016

To aid her recovery, she started playing wheelchair basketball before building up to triathlon and competing in the 2007 Hawaii Ironman. Pictured: In Rio in 2016

Katharine Merry, former Olympic 400m medallist and world number one paid her tribute on Twitter

Katharine Merry, former Olympic 400m medallist and world number one paid her tribute on Twitter

Katharine Merry, former Olympic 400m medallist and world number one paid her tribute on Twitter

She continued: ‘It’s too hard for me now. I get more and more depressed. I never had these feelings before. I cry a lot.’

Vervoort’s health problems began in 2000 when she was struck down by the rare disease, progressive tetraplegia, which paralysed her.

To aid her recovery, she started playing wheelchair basketball before builiding up to triathlon and competing in the 2007 Hawaii Ironman.

She continued: 'It's too hard for me now. I get more and more depressed. I never had these feelings before. I cry a lot.' Pictured in 2012

She continued: 'It's too hard for me now. I get more and more depressed. I never had these feelings before. I cry a lot.' Pictured in 2012

She continued: ‘It’s too hard for me now. I get more and more depressed. I never had these feelings before. I cry a lot.’ Pictured in 2012

But by 2008, Vervoort’s condition deteriorated, meaning she was unable to take part in triathlon and instead moved on to wheelchair sprinting.

The athlete showed her will to live by tackling tough training but her deteriorating condition meant she had to give it up.

Her pain was so severe at times that she would lose consciousness, and said the sight of her in agony has caused others to pass out.

She later became paralysed up to her breasts.

Vervoort said in 2017 there would be Champagne at her wake and added: ‘The people will cry, but I want them also to give thanks for the life I had, for the fact that I’m happy now I’m at peace.’

Above all she said she wanted to inspire as many as people through her sporting achievements.

In Belgium she ranked alongside the likes of Manchester City superstar Kevin De Bruyne as a sports figure.

‘The best goal you can have is to make people happy,’ she said in 2017.

She had been a strong advocate of the right to choose euthanasia.

Vervoort's (left, with Michelle Stilwell of Canada and bronze medallist Kerry Morgan of the US in 2012)  health problems began in 2000 when she was struck down by the rare disease, progressive tetraplegia, which paralysed her

Vervoort's (left, with Michelle Stilwell of Canada and bronze medallist Kerry Morgan of the US in 2012)  health problems began in 2000 when she was struck down by the rare disease, progressive tetraplegia, which paralysed her

Vervoort’s (left, with Michelle Stilwell of Canada and bronze medallist Kerry Morgan of the US in 2012)  health problems began in 2000 when she was struck down by the rare disease, progressive tetraplegia, which paralysed her

In the past she said it gave her the control and 'puts my own life in my hands'. Pictured: King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium with Vervoort in 2013 during a ceremony for the new members of Nobility at Royal Palace, Brussels

In the past she said it gave her the control and 'puts my own life in my hands'. Pictured: King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium with Vervoort in 2013 during a ceremony for the new members of Nobility at Royal Palace, Brussels

In the past she said it gave her the control and ‘puts my own life in my hands’. Pictured: King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium with Vervoort in 2013 during a ceremony for the new members of Nobility at Royal Palace, Brussels

Euthanasia in Belgium

The practice was legalised in Belgium in 2003 – a year after the Netherlands. In 2007, 495 Belgians chose to die this way.

Figures revealed there were 2,028 such deaths in the country in 2016 and 2,309 in 2017 – a 14 per cent year-on-year rise. 

In the past she said it gave her the control and ‘puts my own life in my hands’.

Euthanasia was legalised in Belgium in 2002, and can take place with the written consent of three doctors.

It was the second country in the world to legalise euthanasia after Holland liberalised the law a year earlier.

Previously Vervoort has said of euthanasia: ‘I feel different about death now than years ago.

‘For me I think death is something like they operate on you, you go to sleep and you never wake up. For me it’s something peaceful.’

Diest will have a book of condolence to Vervoort in its town hall from Wednesday.

DailyMail Online


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