Relax. It's going to be all right. We're the United States again. World order has been restored.

A mere 24 hours ago the mighty U.S. of A. seemed destined for Olympic obscurity. We couldn't win in the pool, and we couldn't win on the court. We would become pitied instead of feared, patronized instead of hated. During the next Opening Ceremonies, Bob Costas would tell a cute and slightly condescending story about our nation's heritage (something about George Washington's wooden teeth would be just right).

In short, we would be Trinidad and Tobago.

Then, last night, we beat the Greeks in basketball (although admit it, 72 hours ago that wouldn't have made you this happy). We beat the Aussies in the pool. We beat everyone but the Romanians on the mats; think of that silver medal in women's gymnastics as our foreign aid for the year. Heck, we even beat the Euros at their own game: fencing.

We're winning in the sand. We're winning on flatwater and whitewater (the canoe/kayak folks still refuse to consider changing the names to flat and sparkling). We're winning in the ring, on the diamond, on horseback.

We'd win in the air if we weren't afraid of getting shot down by that ridiculous blimp.

About the only thing we're not winning is badminton. All in good time, my friends. All in good time.

BUST OF THE DAY: American Glenn Eller of Houston, the world champion in double trap shooting, failed to qualify for the finals. So our hero had no feat of clay, I guess. Heh heh. Every four years, that one just kills.

SURPRISE OF THE DAY: Top-ranked Roger Federer lost to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the second round. Even more surprising: The normally unflappable Federer was flapped, committing 59 unforced errors against only 19 winners.


"We're working on some electronic implants. We're going to plant them in the crotch area. When they're going too slow, we push a button."

-- U.S. men's swimming head coach Eddie Reese, when asked what to do about the team's struggles.

MALTA, MY MALTA: Thisclose. We were thisclose to our first medal. For we Maltese, waiting for our first Olympic medal, that is small consolation. (Then again, we are waiting on an island in the Mediterranean off the coast of southern Italy, so I'm thinking we'll be fine, medal or not.) Our flagbearer, William Chetcuti, finished tied for sixth in double traps. That required a shoot-off at the Markopoulo Corral. Alas, it was not to be. William wound up in ninth place, an excellent showing, but we are inconsolable. Although again, island, Mediterranean, southern Italy . . . buck up, my fellow Maltesians. Good show, William!

SIGN OF THE ACROPOLIS: John Skoularikis, the mayor of Olympia, wants the town of 2,000 -- site of the first Games and keeper of the Olympic flame -- to seek "semi-independence" from Greece. "The Athens Olympic Committee got all the money from the sponsors," he told Reuters. "We didn't get a penny to renovate or look better. They just leave us the rubbish."

-- Tracee Hamilton