Belgium
Belgium's Marieke Vervoort reacts on the podium after receiving the silver medal for the women's 400 m (T52) of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on September 10, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:14
Paralympian Marieke Vervoort dies aged 40 through euthanasia
WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JANUARY 15:  U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks during day two of laying out his plan on combating the coronavirus at the Queen theater January 15, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. President-elect Biden is announcing his plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines to Americans.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JANUARY 15: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks during day two of laying out his plan on combating the coronavirus at the Queen theater January 15, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. President-elect Biden is announcing his plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines to Americans. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Now playing
03:49
From Cuba to Delhi, CNN reporters on what Biden faces
PHOTO: Alexey Navalny
Now playing
02:35
Navalny urges his supporters to hit the streets
TOPSHOT - Russian President Vladimir Putin crosses himself as he plunges into the icy waters during the celebration of the Epiphany holiday in Moscow region on January 19, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Russian President Vladimir Putin crosses himself as he plunges into the icy waters during the celebration of the Epiphany holiday in Moscow region on January 19, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
00:36
See Putin take part in traditional icy Epiphany dip
guatemala honduras migrants tear gas Oppmann intl ldn vpx_00000604.png
guatemala honduras migrants tear gas Oppmann intl ldn vpx_00000604.png
PHOTO: CNNE
Now playing
01:30
Authorities use tear gas and batons against US-bound migrants
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
04:21
Here's where the UK-US special relationship could go under Biden
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
02:41
Alexey Navalny arrested on his return to Moscow
Now playing
02:23
Tropical activity poses threat in Southern Hemisphere
PHOTO: Indonesia Search and Rescue Agency
Now playing
02:09
Woman who is trapped underneath earthquake's rubble captured on video
Barrie
Barrie's aunt speaks about how the police brought her the news about the death of her nephew Ibrahima.
PHOTO: VTM
Now playing
01:26
Aunt of Black man who died after arrest in Belgium: We want justice
screengrab US social media
screengrab US social media
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
04:35
Tech companies ban Trump, but not other problematic leaders
Now playing
01:23
Rejected Tintin cover breaks world record for comic book art
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13:  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presides over the vote to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for the second time in little over a year in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. The House voted to impeach Trump on the charge of "incitement of insurrection," 232-197 after a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol where Congress was working to certify the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden on January 6. 10 Republicans voted to impeach. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presides over the vote to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for the second time in little over a year in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. The House voted to impeach Trump on the charge of "incitement of insurrection," 232-197 after a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol where Congress was working to certify the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden on January 6. 10 Republicans voted to impeach. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Now playing
02:35
How the world is reacting to Trump's second impeachment
africa china coronavirus vaccine diplomacy lu stout pkg vpx _00025522.png
africa china coronavirus vaccine diplomacy lu stout pkg vpx _00025522.png
PHOTO: CCTV
Now playing
03:09
How China is hoping to use its vaccine as a diplomatic tool
Indonesia sriwijay air crash search for victims wang pkg intl hnk vpx_00000920.png
Indonesia sriwijay air crash search for victims wang pkg intl hnk vpx_00000920.png
Now playing
02:21
Family members wait in anguish as search for crash victims continues
PHOTO: CIRO FUSCO/AFP/ANSA/AFP via Getty Images
Now playing
00:38
Huge sinkhole appears in Italian hospital parking lot
(CNN) —  

Belgian Paralympian Marieke Vervoort has died aged 40 after ending her life through euthanasia.

Vervoort, a Paralympic gold medalist at London 2012, lived with a degenerative spinal condition that caused her constant pain and made sleeping very difficult.

A statement from her home city Diest said Vervoort “responded to her choice on Tuesday evening.”

Vervoort won gold in the T52 100m wheelchair race and silver in the 200m race at the London 2012 Paralympics, and claimed two further medals at Rio 2016.

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, and in 2008, she received assisted suicide approval after receiving consent from three different doctors.

In an interview with CNN in 2016, Vervoort explained that her decision to sign the euthanasia papers gave her back control.

“I no longer have a fear of death,” she said. “I see it as an operation, where you go to sleep and never wake up. For me it’s something peaceful. I don’t want to suffer when I’m dying.

“When it becomes too much for me to handle than I have my life in my own hands.”

READ: Mhlengi Gwala: A gruesome chainsaw attack, to dreams of Paralympic gold

’Not murder’

Vervoort competed in the T52 classification for athletes who have limited or no mobility below their waists and who have impaired motor skills in their arms and hands.

Since retiring from sport after the Paralympics in 2016 – admitting it had become “too hard on my body” – Vervoort spent more time with her family, friends and her therapy dog, Zenn.

Vervoort and her assistance dog, Zen.
Vervoort and her assistance dog, Zen.
PHOTO: DIRK WAEM/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

“When I’m going to have an epileptic attack, she warns me one hour before. I don’t know how she feels it,” Vervoort said.

Apart from a few countries, euthanasia is illegal in most of the world.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features, and videos

After signing her confirmation papers, Vervoort said she wanted to use the attention she garnered to educate other nations that lack assisted suicide measures for people whose suffering is unbearable.

“I think there will be fewer suicides when every country has the law of euthanasia. I hope everybody sees that this is not murder, but it makes people live longer,” she said.