It wasn't a good day to be an American in Athens.

Actually, we're not sure what a good day to be an American in Athens looks like, but we're sure this wasn't it.

Not only are they denying us medals in events that used to be -- no pun intended -- slam dunks, such as basketball and the women's 4x100 relay. Now they're trying to take back the ones we already won, fair and square.

Well, maybe not fair and square, but that's hardly Paul Hamm's fault.

We're not likely to be named Most Popular in the Olympic yearbook come Sunday night. They don't much like us here. Oh, they like our sneakers, our hamburgers, our sport-utility vehicles -- which look obscene on the tiny streets -- our beer, our TV shows, our language -- you try to speak Greek, poorly, and they answer in pretty fair English -- and oh, yes, our money, our lovely lovely money, which with the exchange rate becomes lovely lovely lovely Euros.

So Friday was for all those who just don't like us. The gymnastics federation wants Hamm's medal back. Our men's basketball team lost, and not only lost, but was outplayed. Marion Jones failed to win a medal, and so did her relay team. We were shut out in canoe/kayak and diving. The volleyball team lost to the boys from Brazil in the semis. Our rhythmic gymnast failed to qualify for the final (on shady scoring, but no one's crying foul for poor Mary Sanders). Chris Kappler won bronze in show jumping, but his horse broke down on the course and he thought for a while he'd lose him. It cost him the silver medal.

But wait.

Nia Abdallah, a slip of a 20-year-old, won silver in taekwondo.

Three U.S. freestyle wrestlers advanced to the semifinals.

The synchronized swim team won bronze, which, incidentally, was the predicted outcome because it was known the Russians would win gold and the Japanese silver well before the competition. Apparently a predetermined outcome is okay with the Russians when it's Russia that's going to win.

Andre Ward advanced to the light heavyweight gold medal match.

Tim Mack and Toby Stevenson went 1-2 in men's pole vault.

So cheer up, America! The forces of evil shall not defeat us!

And even if they do, there is a good chance they'll fail their drug tests.

BUST OF THE DAY: It's official: The diving team is the worst since 1912. The United States won 41 of 62 gold medals between 1904 and 1976; this year's squad was blanked, with the men failing to even qualify for the platform semifinals. Where have you gone, Greg Louganis?

SURPRISE OF THE DAY: Where to start? Oh ye Olympic gods, where to start?


"I respect totally Paul Hamm and all the decisions he makes. If he says give back the medal, I respect it. Don't give back the medal, I respect the decision. He is not responsible for anything."

-- International Gymnastics Federation President Bruno Grandi, who asked all-around gymnastics champion Paul Hamm to relinquish his gold medal -- thereby trying to make him responsible for, basically, everything.

SIGN OF THE ACROPOLIS: First Australia announced that the olive wreaths won by its medalists would have to be irradiated before being allowed in the country. Now New Zealand is going one step further: Don't bother bringing them home at all; they won't be allowed in the country. Customs officials advised their Olympic heroes to photograph their wreaths because "biosecurity is vitally important." Sure, a lovely photograph is exactly the same thing as an olive wreath from the country that gave birth to the Games millennia ago. Why not enlarge the photograph, cut a hole in the center and wear it around the house like a tiara? That will bring back some fond Olympic memories.

-- Tracee Hamilton