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LONDON (AFP) — British Olympic cyclist Joanna Rowsell, who suffers from hair loss-causing alopecia, believes a gold medal performance in London can inspire other girls suffering from the condition.
The 23-year-old started to lose her hair when she was just 10, a development that led to crippling shyness until she discovered cycling.
“There were times when it was a real struggle,” Rowsell told the Daily Mail. “I was really shy as a kid and didn’t want to join any clubs outside of school because I didn’t want to meet new people.
“But once I found the cycling, I had the mentality that it wasn’t going to hold me back. I was told I had potential and there was no point wasting the opportunity.”
The team pursuiter admits that if she takes a medal at the Games, she may consider wearing a wig after she was photographed on the podium at a test event at the Olympic velodrome earlier this year without one.
“People really commented on me going on the podium at the test event with no wig, but it wasn’t something I really thought about,” she said.
“Now I will think about it if we win in London because it feels like a responsibility. I embrace the wigs more than I used to.
“I was very shy about the alopecia but having a lot of positive publicity around the world championships helped my confidence. Knowing that I made a difference to people too was good.
“I’ve got a few wigs now but a part of me just wants to be normal and wear one all the time. That avoids it being a shock for people or a bit awkward.”