Following the American team from one side of the stadium to the other, leaving the uneven bars and arriving at the beam, Simone Biles stood on the spot with her arms folded.
Next to her was coach and mentor Cecile Landi, in charge of guiding the USA to the gold medal it hoped to win in the women's gymnastics team final in Tokyo.
The atmosphere was subdued and not just because Covid-19 has prevented fans from attending Olympic events. In fact, there were easily more than 1000 people in the house on Tuesday night – media, athletes, broadcasters and officials – and every single one of them was at least partly there because of Biles.
But now the "crowd" didn't know what to think. After a jarringly shaky effort first up on the vault, where the four-time Olympic champion completed only 1.5 rotations instead of 2.5, Biles grimaced and walked back to the side of the apparatus. A couple of minutes later, she was walking off the floor with a trainer.
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Team USA moved onto the next stage without her. Jordan Chiles wasn't supposed to be competing on the bars but came off the reserve bench because her famous teammate was nowhere to be seen.
About 15 minutes later, the 24-year-old reappeared. But any hope she'd be back in action was dashed when she put on her white team tracksuit and USA Gymnastics released a statement saying its golden girl had withdrawn with a "medical issue". Biles later revealed she had pulled out for mental health reasons.
So we get to the beam. At this stage nobody in the stands knows exactly what has happened or why Biles' night is over. It was weirdly quiet, even for an Olympics held in a pandemic.
"Don't y'all love Simone Biles?!" yelled the voice of a woman at the top of her lungs – which carried around the stadium because of the aforementioned quiet. A quick turn of the head up to the broadcast stage told you that voice belonged to famous American-based TV presenter Hoda Kotb.
It was the quip that broke an uneasy silence. Biles, standing about 30m away, couldn't help but laugh. She bent over chuckling, then turned and gave an appreciative acknowledgment.
The crowd wasn't quiet anymore. Huge applause broke out and a bunch of whooping and cheering too. Someone had pressed play on the party button.
While another competitor performed a floor routine to Ed Sheeran, Chiles, still standing at the beam, had to dance. She smiled and busted out some silky moves – and dance fever was contagious. It wasn't much, but some movement of the hips here and what might have been a slight shoulder shimmy there from Biles told the world maybe everything would be OK.
Pretty soon Biles was the one doing all the talking. Roaring encouragement at her teammates, cheering whenever they stuck the landing, she was right in the thick of it and the rest of Team USA joined in. They hugged, they danced, they laughed all throughout the rest of the competition en route to a silver medal.
Kotb couldn't contain herself either. The TV star was yelling out support too, calling the gymnasts by their first names and praising their every move like a proud parent. If she was your own mother on the sideline of a football pitch you'd be mortified but she didn't care.
Something that started on such a sombre note had become so uplifting. Music was pumping and the Americans' adrenaline had gone up a few notches – Biles' included. The team moved from the beam to their final act on the floor but when they got there, the best gymnast this planet has ever seen realised she'd forgotten something.
Biles raced across to the opposite corner of the arena, close to where she bumbled her first vault. She collected a container of chalk and raced back at full pelt to deliver it to her teammates. If she couldn't compete, she was going to help any way she could.
"Oh my God, I'm in shock, aren't you?" Kotb said as she took a brief pause from her role as No. 1 cheerleader.
"Look, look! Look what she's doing," the television personality told news.com.au, interrupting our chat to make sure we caught a glimpse of what makes Biles such a champion.
"How good is that? She's bringing a chalk thing over to them – the GOAT!
"She could have taken her toys and thrown them out of the cot, but she didn't. How good is Simone? How cool is that? You've gotta love her. That's why she's the GOAT!
"They could still win! I can't believe it. How great is this?"
Yeah, Kotb was a little bit excited.
On Monday, Biles spoke about feeling the "weight of the world on her shoulders". On Tuesday she said "coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn't an easy feat".
The truth is after making the decision to withdraw, free of the burden of expectation, Biles looked genuinely happy. Far happier than she did in the seconds after her awkward opening vault.
Bounding around like a puppy, the Olympic veteran looked like that weight she'd talked about had well and truly been lifted off, and her teammates were feeding off her energy. Accepting she was struggling, and taking action, was as beneficial for Biles and Team USA as it was admirable.
America fell just short of the gold Kotb was craving, but silver will feel just as sweet given the adversity the Americans overcame. The way they overcame it – with smiles, camaraderie and a damn whole lot of skill – was awesome to watch.
Just as awesome were the scenes of Biles standing proudly alongside her teammates with their medals around their necks at the end of the night. She earned it, even if the TV cameras didn't always capture why.