Behind the Scenes at the Tokyo Olympics
Concept2 was honored to have staff on the ground at the Tokyo Olympic Regatta. Oar technicians Matthias Zink from our German office and Bob Beeman from our US headquarters were there to assist with competitors' needs, whether for a last-minute tune up on equipment or for unexpected problems, like damage from travel or a collision on the course.
Bob Beeman is familiar face to many of the athletes, as he's been supporting athletes at regattas all over the world for many years. This was Bob's 7th Olympics helping athletes feel confident that their oars were race-ready as they headed to the starting line.
While Bob and Matthias were the face of Concept2 at the Olympics, there were many people back in the Concept2 oar shop who worked hard for months to make it all happen in seemingly effortless fashion. Here Bob shares a little behind-the-scenes scoop!
How many nations/teams did you help out with oars?
We probably worked on oars from a couple dozen different countries.
What was the main kind of service their oars needed (sleeves, pitch, grips, etc.)?
Mostly, we changed grips and checked pitch, and handed out new collars and oarlocks as needed.
We understand equipment sometimes gets damaged in transit or in the regatta. What is Concept2 able to do for these athletes?
We built three different pairs of new sculls to replace those damaged in transit: one pair for Uruguay, one pair for Azerbaijan and one pair for Uzbekistan.
We’re excited that 97.5% of all medal winners in Tokyo rowed with Concept2 oars and sculls. Were there any crews that visited the trailer to share their results?
We had several teams that thanked us and showed us their medals. Hamish Bond, from the New Zealand men’s 8+, came by with his 3rd gold medal and thanked us for all the years of service for him. He posed for a photo with me and put his gold medal around my neck. Emma Twigg, the New Zealand women’s single scull gold medalist stopped by with her medal, as did Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Radis of the Romanian women’s double with their gold medals, Ella Greenslade from the New Zealand women’s 8+ with her silver medal, and Olaf Roggensack and Johannes Weissenfeld from the German men’s 8+ with their silver medals.
You’ve been lucky to attend seven Olympics with Concept2. COVID obviously affected your time in Tokyo and the experience. How was this Olympics different from others?
It was a very strange Olympics with all the COVID safety procedures and protocols. I felt like it was very sad for all the athletes who had spent, really, five years to get ready, and then weren't able to have family or fans share the experience. The athletes, coaches and support staff were all very much contained in the bubble and couldn’t have much social interaction. I understand the need for safety, but it definitely made it more challenging to conduct the Olympics successfully.
Do you have a favorite Olympic venue from your past seven Olympics? Where? Why?
I really enjoyed the Rio Olympics in 2016. The venues were excellent, the scenery was amazing, the volunteers were terrific, there was some great racing, including watching Gevvie Stone fight her way through the women’s single scull final, battling extreme water and weather conditions to get the silver medal. I was also very fortunate to be able to attend other events in the evening like Greco-Roman wrestling, water polo, table tennis, basketball and beach volleyball.
It can be hard to watch the regatta while working on oars. Were you able to watch a particular event or do you have a favorite event you try to watch?
Normally, I try to watch as many races as I’m able to but my favorites are single sculls and the eights.
What is it like to be behind the scenes of the Olympic Regatta? How do the athletes and coaches prepare? Is there nervous energy, excitement, calmness or chaos?
It’s great to work behind the scenes at the Olympics and, really, all regattas. Both athletes and coaches often stop by the trailer to hang out and relax a bit, or have their oars checked one last time to give them peace of mind. Every athlete or coach handles it differently—some appear stressed and some just want to come by and hang out. I try to give them words of encouragement and wish them luck.
Anything else that stands out?
Doing regatta service at the Olympics and at all regattas is absolutely the most favorite thing about my job at Concept2. I have been extremely fortunate to have worked here for over 38 years and to be able to represent Concept2 both domestically and internationally since the early 90s. I’m looking forward to going to the 2024 Olympics in Paris! I love my job!