Society & Culture

Bob Beeman: fix-it man at the Olympic Games

Morristown man repairs, oars for the world’s rowers

Editor’s note: Bob Beeman of Morristown is one of the many outstanding ‘public citizens’ with which Vermont is blessed: a businessman, volunteer, civic leader and Chair of the Morristown Selectboard. He’s also a highly skilled tech for Concept 2, the Morrisville-based rowing machine and equipment manufacturer. Today, he’s at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, fixing oars and equipment for Concept 2, manufacturer 93.2% of all oars used in the Olympics this year. Vermont Daily Chronicle asked him to send a first-person report and he has graciously complied.

by Bob Beeman

The rowing at the 2020 Olympics on the Sea Forest waterway on the Tokyo Bay concludes a week of activity today.
There are 14 separate medal events with 526 athletes, half men and half women. Of 206 boats being used, 192 are using Concept 2 oars. That’s 738 Concept2 oars, and 93.2% of total oars in use.

I arrived in Tokyo on July 22 after having my flight cancelled by United a week earlier. When I arrived at the Tokyo airport I spent six hours being tested and going thru registration to get fully accredited. It was a long time after having flown for over 15 hrs on three flights.

When I arrived my colleague from our German office was already here so he was able to help anyone before I arrived.
We actually shipped most of the parts and equipment that we needed here in 2019, as we were here for the Junior World Rowing championships.

It’s definitely different than any other Olympics I’ve been to, with all the Covid safety protocols and restrictions. But I love being here, to help the athletes from around the world and represent Concept2.

It’s been super hot and humid with temps in the 90’s and high humidity.

Bob with gold medalist Hamish Bond of New Zealand

There is only about a 30% vaccination rate among the Japanese people. They have very strict Covid safety procedures at the venue. I’m very much in the bubble, so to speak, with the coaches, athletes and support people. We only go back and forth from the venue to the hotel and, really, to our rooms. We have designated eating areas and are sitting by ourselves, socially distant at all times. We also have to wear our masks all the time except for eating or drinking and when we are in our hotel room. We also have to submit a daily saliva specimen every morning before we go to the venue.

Even with all of that , there have been three positive cases among the rowing athletes, one with a coach, and three with World Rowing administrators.

We also had a severe tropical storm Napartek that threatened the rowing venue. Luckily we only got a sliver of it, which brought heavy wind and rain and didn’t damage any of the tents or equipment. It’s still pretty exciting to be here even with all of that.

It has been much different from previous Olympics I’ve been to ( this is my seventh). In the past, the rowing events have finished at 3-4 pm in the afternoon, so I’ve been able to get tickets to see other events. But due to the safety protocols, I can’t do that this year.

I’ve been helping the rowers every day: things like changing grips, fine tuning the pitch, and I’ve actually made a pair of oars for Uruguay and another pair for Azerbaijan. Both original sets were lost from collision. I am also making another pair today for Uzbekistan because they had one ruined by the airport and borrowed some to compete with.

I don’t mind because that is exactly why I’m here: to support any rower with C2 oars and get them exactly right so they have the confidence and comfort to race with them. I kind of think of it as being like a NASCAR pit crew for oars.

Today is the last day of racing and we will pack everything up and get it ready to ship back home. All in all it’s been great to be here.

Mooney just misses medaling – Brooke Mooney, a member of the USA women’s rowing team, just missed winning a medal when her squad finished fourth in the finals yesterday. The winning medalists (in order) were Canada, New Zealand, and China.

Mooney, 25, is a Peru VT native and former competitive skier. This is her first Olympics.

Categories: Society & Culture

Leave a Reply