Kirkby’s champion swimmer, Ollie Hynd, has spoken of his support for fellow Paralympian Marieke Vervoort after it was revealed the Belgian wheelchair racer had chosen to end her life through euthanasia.
Vervoort died last week aged 40 after suffering constant pain and seizures from a degenerative muscle disease, having first been diagnosed at the age of 14.
Hynd – a European, world, Commonwealth and Paralympic champion - said it was important that people heard her story, were inspired by her spirit and realised the challenges faced by athletes with disabilities.
In an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat, Hynd, 24, who has a similar neurological condition, said: “The news of Marieke’s death really hit close to home.
“It’s difficult to get your head around. I feel an enormous amount of empathy.
“Pushing yourself to the limit when you’ve got a neurological condition is so difficult. There are some days that I wake up in so much pain.”
Hynd, who suffers from as neuromuscular myopathy, explained how training could be really difficult for athletes with a neurological condition and he thought Vervoort had been “so strong for not only excelling in a sport, but kind of just getting through day-to-day living”.
“I’ve had two really tough days of training and today honestly I feel ill. That’s the reality of the situation,” he added.
“It’s important that people hear her story and are inspired by her spirit, that she carried on and was so strong for so long.
“Something that I’m really inspired by is that everything was in her control. And I think she had a really, really positive look on what was a really difficult situation.”