Head in hands they sit and watch, scared to look, too in love to look away.
The agony and ecstasy visible in every line, every expression on their faces.
Down there on the floor, the track or the pool, their offspring look calm and poised. But all the parents can do is look on in hope.
Sports parents don't get medals, but perhaps they should.
When Team GB gymnastics men's hope Louis Smith took to the pommel horse at the weekend his mum was in the arena too. She'd seen the hours he'd put into training, witnessed the pain, the stress and the frustration. She just wanted, so badly, for him to do well.
Actually, Elaine Petch simply said she didn't want her son "to fall off". It was the maternal instinct of a woman who sees more in her son than the potential for winning a big metal medal.
Smith's mum later told the press she would rather not be in the audience when her son was competing. It would be easier, she said, if she could just stand outside and wait for someone else to tell her what happened.
That will be an emotion shared by many sports parents at the Olympics. They've watched their child's career progress for longer than anyone else – they've driven them to training and got up early at weekends just so they could meet a particular instructor. They know how much their child wants to win – what it really means to them away from the crowds and the TV cameras.
These parents will also be there afterwards – win or lose. There to celebrate with or to pick up the pieces. They'll slip into whatever role is necessary.
It's probably why, despite her own anxieties, Smith's mum did stay in the arena with her son. She said: "I'm his mum. I have to watch."
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