One of them goes into the records as the only citizen of his boycotting nation to win a medal at the Moscow Games. Two more have coached here under foreign flags, and few have been calling the shots as officials.

The rest estimated now at 2,000 enjoy access to the event that even top Communist Party officials with caviar-plated credentials might envy.

These are the Americans at the Moscow Olympics. They aren't always as visible in the crowds as the two men who held up the stars and stripes at the opening ceremonies July 19, but they have added an exotic and sometimes zany note to the 22nd Olympiad.

The athlete for the record books is Mike Sylvester, 6-6 guard-forward on the Italian basketball team that helped knock the favored Soviets out of first place and went on to take a silver.

A Cincinnati native who took dual citizenship six years ago when he began playing full time in the Italian basketball league, the ex-star of the University of Dayton had mixed feelings about even being here -- despite his medal.

"When I first heard of President Carter's idea for a boycott, I thought it was great. Then our so-called allies didn't stand behind us. As an Italian citizen, I had no choice in the matter. If i didn't respond to the invitation, I would have been disqualified for life from playing in Italy. So it was a question of putting bread on the table for my family, or going along with the boycott."

Much the same predicament -- bread over principles -- faced Bernard O'Connell, the American who coaches Kuwait's track and field team.

"I am a professional coach. I do it for a living," O'Connell told The Associated Press. "If I'd been a coach for the American team, It would have been different. I am not representing the United States."

A University of Idaho graduate, the 40-year-old coach has been living in the oil kingdom with his Mexican-born wife and two sons for two years. He plans to stay with the team through the 1984 games.

Does he miss America?

"Quite a bit. I'm an American."

The same sort of equivocal feelings were expressed by Mike Perry, the former junior college standout from Ulster, N.Y., who is the Swedish basketball coach. The boycott he admits, preys on his mind.

If the Americans had come, it is likely his team could not have qualified for the games. "Being an American and being in Moscow has put a little pressure on me."

Don Hull, president of the International Amateur Boxing Association, one of an undertermined number of Americans officiating here, takes another view of the absence of the Americans.

"It obviously makes me sad," he said. "Anyone here has to be a winner just to be here, no matter what his capacity. The losers are the ones who aren't here."

But one loser who still enjoyed himself was Luis Pizarro, one of three Puerto Ricans who invoked their commonwealth status to come here despite the U.S. ban.

Standing near the ring, his jersey soaked with his sweat and blood after losing to Adolfo Horta of Cuba minutes earlier, the 17-year-old, 125 pound-class boxer declared, "I am happy to be part of this."

Wayne Brabender, forward on the Spanish basketball team that lost the bronze to the Soviets, also has no qualms about competing for his adopted homeland: "My wife is Spanish, my two kids are Spanish. I consider myself Spanish."

Now 34, he's been in Spain many years, every since the coach of Real Madrid, Morris Branch, recruited him when he played at the University of Minnesota. Brabender quietly remined reporters that he also played for Spain in the 1972 Olympics and "there was no fuss then." Involved in a sporting goods business, he says,"I enjoy Spain very much. I wouldn't change anything."

Watching these countrymen and virtually any other athlete they want to see, are the American tourists who braved the president and some of their own outspoken compatriots to come here despite the political storm raised by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

For the most part, they seem pleased they did so, proud to be Americans here, and surprised by the peculiar and confusing combination of warm Russian hospitality and chilling Soviet security.

"This is a place to come if you like adventure, have an adventuresome spirit," declared Reginald Phillips, a bejeweled assistant principal at Chicago's Orr High School.

The Americans realized it was not all going to be a picnic as soon as they arrived: In random interviews over the course of the Games, nearly every American citizen started off his comparison of the United States and the Soviet Union with the rigorous and deliberately intimidating customs search the Soviets impose.

A New York State social worker, Stanley Burznynski, related how he was detained at Sheremtyevo Airport by border guards who interrogated him about why his hair was shorter than in his passport photo. In the end, he said, they were barely satisfied with his explanation: "I got a haircut."

Tom Landgraf, a Milwaukee accountant who took all but $53.65 of his life savings and brought his wife, Lauirie here to honeymoon, first toured the United States for a week "to really feel the U.S. part of it and then come over here and compare and see the real differences." He found them almost immediately: "I feel more freedom back home."

The sight of thousands of white-capped policemen patrolling Moscow's streets has jarred Americans.

But once past the security issues, the tourists make clear they came because they have been bitten by what one calls "the Olympic bug," the overwhelming desire to be able to say when this troubled Olympiad is history, "I was there."

As with Hull, the boxing official, for these Americans the boycott only spoiled the competition and the thrill of seeing the compatriots strike gold. Many of the tourists interviewed could recite specific events in which they were sure American athletes would have dislodged the dominant Soviets and runner-up East Germans, especially in track and field and swimming.

"I'm a nonpolitical person who enjoys sports," said one New Yorker in a typical comment. "I saved a lot of money, made by decision long before anyone ever heard of Afghanistan, an I came to watch the spectacle. I'm sorry my team isn't here."

But these travelers have benefited enormously from the fact that no more than 3,000 Americans are expected to come in all, 17,000 less than originally expected. The original tour packages available to Americans included a maximum of one Olympic event per day per tourist and were designed to include extensive travel to such far-flung non-Olympic Soviet cities as Irkutsk and Tashkent.