Beyond SFBay

95-year-old athlete ends it all at final party


When you’ve led a life as full as 95-year-oldĀ Emiel Pauwels, you can go out however you darn well please.

Belgium’s beloved ‘oldest athlete’ threw a champagne party with 100 friends and family Monday before choosing euthanasia at the hands of a doctor.

Pauwels competed athletically until last year, when at age 94 he defeated 95-year-old Ilmari Koppinen in a 60-meter “dash” at the Veteran Games in San Sebastian, Spain.

In the must-see video, Pauwels stumbles slightly out of the block before roaring back in the final stretch to raise his arms in triumphant glory even before he crosses the finish line.

Pauwels, who had been diagnosed with terminal stomach and colon cancer, chose to end his life with euthanasia. Assisted suicide has been legal in Belgium since 2002, with 1,432 cases reported in 2012.

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as associate professor at San Francisco State University.

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