Marieke Vervoort, a Paralympian from Belgium, died on Tuesday according to the Belgian Paralympic Committee. Vervoort died by Euthanasia, which is legal in Belgium. According to NBC Sports, Vervoort signed euthanasia papers 11 years ago so she could decide when she could end her life.
"You can go in peace when the time comes," she said 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."
Vervoort, 40, was a wheelchair racing competitor and she suffered from a degenerative spinal disease. She won a gold medal at the Paralympics in London back in 2012 and she also won two medals at the Paralympics in Brazil in 2016.
But with her success in the Paralympics, she was also dealing with a lot of pain. According to TMZ, Vervoort could sometimes only sleep 10 minutes a night. She also had seizures and suffered from major injuries that would keep here hospitalized for several months. She reportedly started planning to end her life back in 2016. She spent her final hours with family and friends.
"Marieke 'Wielemie' Vervoort was an athlete tough as nails and a great lady. Her death touches us deeply," the Belgian royal family said in a statement.
More people started to react to the news of Vervoort's passing. The Paralympic team in Belgium said, "It is with deep sadness that we have learned the passing of Marieke Vervoort, Paralympic champion, quadruple Paralympic medalist and forever member of Paralympic Team Belgium. Our thoughts are with her family and friends."
One fan wrote, "We're all spending our lives going up hill, over bumps, over cracks in search of just a few minutes of the smooth. Occasionally it's all OK and you can let go and just roll hands-free, then you might smile and take it all in, make it look easy. Roll safely. Marieke Vervoort."
Back in 2016, Vervoort talked about the pain she was in every time she trained for a race.
"It's too hard for my body," she said in 2016. "Each training I'm suffering because of pain. Every race I train hard. Training and riding and doing competition are medicine for me. I push so hard – to push literally all my fear and everything away."