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Southland sprint cyclist 'undisputed king of gym'

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 07/06/2014
Matt Archibald
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
MATT ARCHIBALD: The NZ cyclist and his track sprint team mates Eddie Dawkins and Sam Webster had a clean sweep of the podium places in the UCI Keirin Cup competition at the outdoor velodrome in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania.

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Judging by the numbers, track cyclist Matt Archibald is one of the most physically gifted athletes in New Zealand.

The Southland sprinter is currently with the New Zealand track cycling team in the United States, preparing for July's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Archibald is the undisputed king of the gym in the BikeNZ set-up at the Avantidrome in Cambridge.

In fact, his efforts on the leg press, squat, vertical jump and box jump would be hard to beat in any gym in the country.

At 94 kilograms, Archibald is all muscle. His work in the gym is all about high weights and quick reps, working on that explosive speed that is vital to his work on the track bike.

It starts with his leg press, where he runs through three sets of five, increasing the weight each new set.

Starting at 440kg seemed impressive enough as the Waikato Times watched on.

Then he increased it to 560kg for the second set, and by the end Archibald had 640kg loaded onto the machine.

The whole gym stopped to watch him belt out the set.

Archibald insists that wasn't even a personal best, it was just part of normal strength training.

His personal best with the squat is 260kg, nearly three times his own body weight.

Compare those numbers to the efforts of the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise, and Archibald is a physical freak.

"Our best guys to compare is Pauliasi Manu," Chiefs strength and conditioning coach Phil Healey said.

"He does a 260kg squat, but then he is 114kg, he's a big prop."

The strongest Chief around Archibald's size is Tim Nanai-Williams, who Healey said belts out 250kg squats, and weighs around 87kg.

"We focus on strength, but a lot is on endurance as well. If our guys were to focus on the strength, I'm sure Pauliasi could do 300kg squats, but that's not what they're built for.

"In saying that, those are pretty impressive numbers from [Archibald]. I'm sure he could do more too if that was the only focus."

The Chiefs don't measure efforts on the leg press, though neither do the cyclists.

Sprint cyclists work on getting the most out of their explosive legs, and do measure their leaping ability, which translates to their power out of the gates.

Archibald, naturally, is the best jumper in the New Zealand group.

His box jump is a staggering 1.65m, more than that of shot putter Jacko Gill and the same height as singer and actress Selena Gomez.

Then there is his standing jump of 81cm which would have been equal best in the 2010 NBA Draft alongside Los Angeles Lakers basketballer Wesley Johnson, and is well above average in the NBA.

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That power and explosiveness certainly helps on the bike, as Archibald is one of the only Kiwis to have clocked a flying 250m lap in under 10 seconds.

To think that despite his physical abilities, Archibald can't crack into the World Champion New Zealand sprint team, containing Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins.

New Zealand have five world class sprinters heading to Glasgow, including Archibald and Keirin specialist Simon van Velthooven, showing the depth in the current set-up.

It's nice knowing the team have that kind of strength pushing them to success in Glasgow.

- The Southland Times

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