Chronicling the Life of a Paralympic Athlete

Pola Rapoport ’73 was invited for a month-long Artist’s Residency at the Yaddo Artists’ Colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. In her residency, Rapoport will be editing her new documentary film, Marieke: Death and the Racer.

The film is centered on the life of paralyzed Belgian athlete Marieke Vervoort, who is a Paralympic champion in the sport of women’s wheelchair racing. Vervoort has medaled at two Paralympic games, winning Gold in the 100 meters and Silver in the 200 meters in London (2012) and Silver in the 400 meters and Bronze in the 100 meters in Rio (2016). She also won three World Championship Gold medals in Doha, Qatar (2015) in the 100, 200, and 400 meter races. 

Vervoort suffers from a degenerative disease that has slowly and painfully robbed her of mobility from the legs upward. She has planned to take control of her decline by planning for medical aid-in-dying. In order to decide upon her date of death, Vervoort retained Dr. Wim Distelmans as her personal euthanasia doctor. In her film, Rapoport has captured a detailed portrait of Vervoort’s life, including her relationships with her parents, friends, and partners.