Whilst New Zealand has fared fairly well during the pandemic, it has employed a strict border control policy. This means that every person returning to the country, including elite athletes competing abroad, has to stay in a secure hotel for a two-week isolation period.
Because of these regulations, New Zealand Sport has been very focused on athlete welfare, both in terms of maintaining fitness levels and also addressing mental health during quarantine. Our New Zealand distributor, Iconsport has therefore been inundated with requests from New Zealand Sport to provide short-term loan bikes for athletes returning home to allow athletes to still exercise for the two-week quarantine period.
One of the largest requests was for the All Blacks rugby team - New Zealand's best sports team, and arguably the most successful team in the world. Many of the All Blacks players are Wattbikers, and their strength and conditioning coach Nic Gill has spoken candidly about his love-hate relationship with the Wattbikes (or "Watties" as they call them) previously. The bikes are also a big part of their training regime at every single one of the New Zealand Super Rugby franchises - including the Chiefs, Crusaders, Blues, Highlanders, and the Hurricanes.
When the All Blacks returned from the Rugby Championship campaign in Australia, which saw them narrowly take the title after a tight three-way battle for the series against Australia and Argentina, they requested Wattbikes to be provided by our New Zealand distributor, Iconsport. Each player and staff member was given a choice of fitness equipment to be provided to them in quarantine, and the final request was 33 Wattbikes in total for the team.
The Iconsport team quickly got to work, and over 1,200km of travel later, and many hours of cleaning and servicing the Wattbikes, the bikes were delivered to each player and staff member in their quarantine rooms, with any special requests like tall seat stems and device holders included.
Nic Gill came up with a challenge for the team members to ride the distance of New Zealand, and many players recorded huge distances over the two-week period. A few of the players even dedicated whole days to riding on the Wattbikes, compiling up to 225km each day. Hooker Codie Taylor went even further, completing a challenge where he rode for 12 hours for charity, raising more than $16,000NZ for the Kids Can charity.
Nic Gill said:
Richard from Iconsport - the official Wattbike distributor for New Zealand - adds:
“It wasn’t the easiest of projects but the ABs love the Wattbike and this was a big deal for us to go above and beyond for them when they most needed the bikes. Delivering and collecting the bikes was a massive undertaking and we even hired a pit lane garage at a local race track to make sure we had space to ferry the bikes in and out. The amazing thing was after the two weeks almost all of the bikes were required immediately, whether for hire or sale, so it was a worthwhile exercise for us and for the Wattbike brand.”