Joanna Rowsell ShandThere were some outstanding performances at the Olympics, but the one that stood out for us was the one undertaken by Team GB’s Joanna Rowsell Shand.

Starting young

The 27 year-old cyclist has suffered from alopecia since the age of ten, and after a period spent by ignoring all the usual teenage pursuits and throwing herself into school and cycling, had come to terms with it long before she rose to prominence as one of the world’s top sprint cyclists.

“I always had bald spots but over time it all started coming out in clumps,” she said, in an interview with The Guardian a couple of years ago.

“People say I was brave to go on the podium in the [London] Olympics with my bald head but I just wanted to get my medal. Really, the brave thing was learning to deal with it when I was young – going to my first training camp when nobody knew me or about my condition. That was brave.”

Gimme hope, Joanna

Although Jo, like most female alopecia sufferers, has a collection of wigs to suit her look, she certainly wasn’t going to hide who she was when it came to Rio 2016. After the GB team pursuit team bagged yet another gold, she appeared on the podium au naturel, looking absolutely delighted with her new medal.

As she’s said before; “Anything I can do to make things better for people is great, even if it’s them saying, when someone asks them what’s wrong “Oh, I’ve got what Joanna Rowsell’s got”. Of course it’s very hard, especially at first, but you need to not let it define you.”

Although we all know that it’s far more acceptable in our society for women to wear wigs than it ever will be for men, it’s always good to see people shrug off their hair loss issues and refuse to let it define who they really are.

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By Ian Watson

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