Joanna Rowsell credits her gold medal success to best friend and fellow Olympian Lizzie Armitstead

'On and off the track, Lizzie's support has been unstinting' Cyclist Joanna Rowsell credits her confidence boost and gold medal success to best friend and fellow Olympian Lizzie Armitstead

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UPDATED:

11:13 GMT, 14 August 2012

She gained worldwide acclaim and respect when she took to the podium in front of an audience of 17 million to collect her gold medal without her wig on, and Alopecia sufferer Joanna Rowsell has one person in particular to thank for that.

Best friend and fellow medalist Lizzie Armitstead has supported Joanna through the trials and tribulations of the Games and helped restore the much-needed confidence boost that helped catapult her to Gold.

'On and off the track, Lizzie's support has been unstinting. Oddly, our good and bad years have run in parallel- and experiencing the highs and lows of competitive sport together has cemented our friendship,' Joanna told Grazia magazine.

Team GB riders Joanna Rowsell and Elizabeth Armitstead are the best of friends and support each other through the tough times

Team GB riders Joanna Rowsell and Elizabeth Armitstead are the best of friends and support each other through the tough times

Joanna, from Cheam, Surrey,
was diagnosed with alopecia aged ten when her thick auburn hair started to disappear.

One eyebrow went, then the other, then the hair from her scalp in big
chunks along with her eyelashes.

She
was, she admits, bewildered. ‘At that age you don’t really understand. I
remember crying and saying to Mum and Dad: “Why is this happening to
me” It was so upsetting.’

Joanna credits Lizzie for helping her gain the confidence to buy a wig

Joanna credits Lizzie for helping her gain the confidence to buy a wig

Countless
visits to doctors and specialists with her parents all ended with the same
message: the condition was incurable.

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Dani King, Laura Trott, and Joanna Rowsell broke the world record and Joanna gained great respect when she collected her medal without her wig