Marieke Vervoort, Belgian Paralympian, ends her life by euthanasia

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Marieke Vervoort, a Belgian Paralympian, died via euthanasia on Tuesday, 11 years after signing euthanasia papers so she could decide when to end her life, according to the Belgian Paralympic Committee.

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium.

Vervoort, 40, competed in wheelchair racing with an incurable, degenerative spinal disease that limited her to 10 minutes of sleep on some nights. She earned four Paralympic medals between 2012 and 2016, including 100m gold at the London Games.

Back in 2016, Belgian newspapers reported Vervoort intended to kill herself after the Paralympics ended, which she refuted at the Games.

Vervoort said then that if she didn’t have the euthanasia papers, she would have committed suicide years ago.

“You can go in peace when the time comes,” she told NBC Sports’ Lewis Johnson in Rio. “I don’t want to live like a plant that I need day-in, day-out and during all night that I need all the time somebody with me to help me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.