An Olympic medal hopeful and an alopecia sufferer proudly stepped onto the podium in London’s Olympic Velodrome after winning gold, without her wig.

Cyclist, Joanna Rowsell, 23, from Cheam became an overnight poster girl for alopecia after millions saw her step onto the podium on Saturday, February 18. Miss Rowsell was part of the Team Pursuit threesome which won gold with their record-breaking time at the UCI World Cup. joanna rowsell olympic alopecia She then went on to beat the former world champion, Alison Shanks from New Zealand in the Individual Pursuit in three minutes, 32:364 seconds. She said: "I literally only had time to wipe the sweat off my face and jump on the podium." The cyclist who lost her hair when she was ten years old has spoken about her struggle with alopecia areata. Alopecia areata can result in hair loss from some or all parts of the body. The patches of baldness may come and go as they have with Miss Roswell. It is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system and there is no proven effective treatment. Miss Rowsell said alopecia made her shy and she focused on homework however when cycling came along she applied the same work ethic to cycling. She was 15 years old when a team of scouts from British cycling talent visited her school, Nonsuch High School for girls. She said: "I was identified as having talent, it all started at school and all by chance." She was supposed to have a double lesson but her teacher gave her time off to try out and she was soon identified her as having raw talent. Miss Rowsell has now turned her focus to the Olympics and is currently training in Majorca. She added: "I’m feeling really excited after this weekend. "It was such a great thing to be a part of the team and I’m looking forward to building on the success for the rest of the year."

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