In this twenty second episode of the season of the Her Spirit podcast BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin and BBC Triathlon presenter Annie Emmerson talk to Olympic cyclist, commentator and public speaker Jo Rowsell
Jo began competitive cycling relatively late – aged 16 – having been talent spotted at school aged 15. She wasn’t a cyclist at all previously and having been talent spotted was faced with a steep learning curve into the world of cycling skills and tactics. Perseverance lead to junior National Titles and representing Great Britain at the junior World Championships in only my second year of racing.
Jo grew up in London but after finishing my A Levels relocated to Manchester to be a full time cyclist and within 9 months won my first World Title in the women’s Team Pursuit. A series of setbacks throughout 2010 put her place on Team GB at a home Olympic Games in jeopardy as she subsequently suffered a bad year in 2011, but she battled back to become World Champion, World Record holder and Olympic Champion in 2012.
In 2013, Rowsell broke her collarbone at the London cycling festival but, five weeks later, after an operation and training on the Wattbike with a pillow on the bars, she won the Women's Pursuit on the track at the International Belgian Open.
After the London Olympics Jo focussed more on individual events and in 2014 completed the World Championships and Commonwealth Games double with gold medals at both events in the Individual Pursuit that year.
Jo made Team GB again in 2016 for the Rio Olympics but this time she went in as the underdogs having not won the World Title that year. However the team blew the competition away to take a gold medal again and 3 new World Records in the process.
In March 2017, Jo announced that she was retiring from the sport. "The decision to step away has been the hardest I've ever had to make," she said. "I believe I have more to offer the world."
Jo has suffered with alopecia, resulting in hair loss, since she was 10 years old which has brought with it many challenges to overcome as she grew up. She talks openly to Annie and Louise about this and how sport helped to normalise it.
She gives some great motivational tips about being active and motivating yourself and others.
These podcasts have been made possible through the support of Medichecks www.medichecks.com and Sport England www.sportengland.org.