Lack of audience playing into U.S. women's gymnastics team’s second-place Olympic performance, Dominique Dawes says

1 year ago

Three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes told CNBC that a lack of audience fed into the U.S. women's gymnastic team's second-place qualifying performance Sunday behind the Russian Olympic Committee team.

"They are feeling a little lost because there's no audience there to feed off of that adrenaline," said Dawes, the first African American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics.  "I couldn't imagine at any of my three Olympic games not having the audience there chanting, 'Go USA!' or, at least, just feeding off of their energy, so it has to be tough." 

Olympics organizers banned spectators from the games in Tokyo,after Japan declared a state of emergency amid rising Covid-19 cases in the country.

The Russian women's gymnastic team posted a top score of 171.629, more than a full point ahead of the U.S. women's team total of 170.562. Dawes, however, told "The News with Shepard Smith," that Team USA's second place performance isn't necessarily a negative.

"I love that they're in second place, honestly, it makes it a competition," Dawes said.

While Olympic champion Simone Biles received the highest aggregate score of any participating gymnast and qualified for every individual event, she took to Instagram to write about the massive pressure she's feeling during the Tokyo games. 

"It wasn't an easy day or my best but I got through it," she wrote. "I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard hahaha!" Biles wrote. "The Olympics is no joke! "BUT I'm happy my family was able to be with me virtually," she said. "They mean the world to me!"

Dawes, who won team gold as part of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games' "Magnificent Seven," said she understands the pressure that Biles is feeling. 

"I felt that leading into the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia," Dawes said. "We were expected to win gold, to make history, to be the first ever women's team to do that, and I knew, as one of the leaders of that team, that my scores really did matter, so I feel what she's feeling, but I hope she knows that we're behind her every step of the way, and no matter what the outcome is, we love her, and she's a positive force for the sport of gymnastics."

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