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Joanna Rowsell meets Wheels for Wellbeing representatives at Croydon Arena

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AN OLYMPIC champion admits she would not have struck gold without the Lottery funding which "changed her life".

Cyclist Joanna Rowsell was speaking on Monday, after a visit to Croydon Arena, in South Norwood, where she met representatives from Wheels for Wellbeing, a charity which has just received its own £467,000 Lottery funding boost.

The Carshalton-born star, who triumphed alongside Dani King and Laura Trott in the women's team pursuit, is a supporter of the charity, which has helped hundreds of disabled people learn to cycle using a wide variety of specially designed bikes.

And she used her own experience to stress the crucial role of Lottery money in developing both grassroots and elite sport.

She said: "National Lottery funding changed my life, it allowed me to train full-time at superb facilities and receive world-class coaching and medical support which resulted in success during the summer.

"Lottery players should be proud that they are helping to fund projects which are helping people like those I have met today and funding thousands of other good causes."

Rowsell, who is taking a year away from track cycling to concentrate on road racing, also met young people supported by Alopecia UK.

The 24-year-old suffers from the hair loss condition and famously removed her wig before receiving her gold medal at London 2012.

She added: "Alopecia is a part of my life and I want people to know that there is nothing that you cannot do in this life if you put your mind to it.

"Alopecia does not stop you living your life and achieving your dreams."

Isabelle Clement, director of Wheels for Wellbeing, described Rowsell as "a huge inspiration".

She added its extra Lottery funding would go towards reaching more blind and visually impaired cyclists.

Joanna Rowsell meets Wheels for Wellbeing representatives at Croydon Arena


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