ATHENS, Greece Of the 20 gold medals available at the Olympics on Friday, only one went to an American.
The last one.
What was easily the worst day of the Athens Games for the United States team also could be considered among the nation's worst at any Olympics.
The biggest disappointment was the men's basketball team losing in the semifinals. This will be the first time the NBA players won't be going home with a gold medal. And they might not even get bronze. Their foe in the consolation game Sunday will be Lithuania, a team that has already beaten them.
Marion Jones, who was the Michael Phelps of the 2000 Games, was shut out on the track, landing eight inches short of a medal in the bronze jump her lone individual event. She then was part of a botched handoff on the 400-meter relay, an event the United States has traditionally dominated.
The U.S. tradition in diving was even stronger, until Friday. With Caesar Garcia and Kyle Prandi not even making the finals in the 10-meter platform, Americans were shut out of any medals for the first time in 92 years.
The boxing team also is capping a miserable performance, their worst in 56 years. Andre Ward provided a bit of good news Friday by advancing to the light heavyweight finals. The bad news was that he was booed from the time he walked into the arena, getting cheers only when he slipped on the canvas.
That response was tame compared to what happened in downtown Athens, where more than 2,000 people lit fires, smashed windows and swung clubs to protest a visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell and he isn't due to arrive until Saturday.
"Unless we are playing in the USA, the crowd is against us. We are used to that," said William Priddy, whose U.S. volleyball team was swept by Brazil in the semifinals.
One bad day out of 14 so far won't overshadow a phenomenal performance by the overall squad. Americans remain on pace for their most medals ever although China did move within two of the lead for the most golds.
Still, on a Friday to forget, even the good news came with an asterisk.
The women's basketball team made the finals, but only by four in a game that was tight throughout. Next up is undefeated Australia, whose unofficial theme has been "bring on the Americans" as they hope to avenge a loss on their home turf in the 2000 finals.
A bronze in synchronized swimming was noteworthy mostly because one of the performers will be trading in a swimsuit for a jail jumpsuit. Tammy Crow will soon begin serving a three-month sentence for vehicular manslaughter stemming from a car crash that killed her boyfriend and a 12-year-old boy.
As for that lone gold medal, it came in pole vaulting.
Tim Mack earned it by clearing an Olympic record 19 feet, 6 1/4 inches. Boisterous, helmet-wearing teammate Toby Stevenson took silver.
The stadium was practically empty when they finished. As for their medal ceremony?It'll have to wait until Saturday.
TRACK AND FIELD
Tatyana Lebedeva led a Russian medal sweep in the long jump, relegating Marion Jones to fifth place in her only individual event of the Olympics.
Liu Xiang of China tied the 110-meter hurdles world record and set a new Olympic mark, winning the gold medal in 12.91 seconds. Liu won the first gold medal in track for a male Chinese athlete. U.S. trials champion Terrence Trammell won silver in 13.18, while Anier Garcia of Cuba took bronze.Osledidys Menendez of Cuba won the gold medal in the women's javelin falling one centimeter short of her world record. Menendez's best throw was her first one 234 feet, 8 inches (71.53 meters), shattering the Olympic record by more than eight feet. Silver medalist Steffi Nerius of Germany was a distant second and Mirela Manjani of Greece took the bronze. Xing Huina of China surged past Ethiopia's Ejegayehu Dibaba in the final turn night to win the women's 10,000 meters. Ethiopian Derartu Tulu was third.
MEN'S SOCCERIraq's surprising Olympic soccer run came up short with a 1-0 loss to Italy in a bronze medal game that couldn't escape reminders of violence in the war-torn country. Just before kickoff, the teams exchanged words of condolence for Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, who was killed by Iraqi militants seeking to force Italy's troops out of Iraq. Italian players also wore black armbands to honor Baldoni. On the field, Alberto Gilardino scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the eighth minute to seal Italy's first soccer medal since it won gold at the 1936 Berlin Games. Argentina and Paraguay meet in Saturday's final at Olympic Stadium in Athens.
Germany's Birgit Fischer won her eighth gold medal, becoming the first woman to win Olympic medals 24 years apart. Fischer, 42, was part of the four-person kayak that rallied to win the 500-meter final, edging Hungary by two-tenths of a second. Ukraine took bronze. Fischer won her first gold at 18 in Moscow, becoming the youngest women ever to win an Olympic kayaking event. She now has 11 total medals and will be a strong contender for another on Saturday, when she races in the pairs kayak final.
Spain's David Cal surged ahead of Germany's Andreas Dittmer, the defending gold medalist and three-time defending world champion, to win the 1,000-meter single canoe event. Attila Vajda of Hungary ended up in third.
In the single kayak 1,000-meter race, two-time world champion Eirik Veraas Larsen of Norway won the gold, Ben Fouhy of New Zealand took the silver and Adam van Koeverden of Canada held on for bronze.
The Swedish kayak pair of Markus Oscarsson and Henrik Nilsson won their 1,000-meter event, improving on their silver in Sydney. Italy was second and Norway third, giving Larsen his second medal of the day.
The Germans took their second gold when the canoe pair of Christian Gille and Tomasz Wylenzek won their 1,000-meter final. Russia held off Hungary for second.In the men's K-4 1,000, the Hungarians crossed the line first, ahead of Germany in second and Slovakia in third.
CYCLINGNorway's Gunn-Rita Dahle dominated the women's mountain bike field for her 15th consecutive win in an internationally sanctioned race. Since May 2003, Dahle whose time was 1 hour, 56 minutes, 51 seconds has won 28 of 32 races she's entered. Mary McConneloug of Fairfax, Calif., the lone American in the Olympic women's field, placed ninth. Canada's Marie-Helene Premont won the silver in 1:57:50, and reigning world champion Sabine Spitz of Germany got the bronze in 1:59:21.
MEN'S WATER POLOTamas Kasas scored three goals and Hungary moved within one victory of an eighth Olympic water polo gold medal after beating archrival Russia 7-5 in the semifinals. The top-ranked Hungarians led 4-2 before Russia rallied to 5-5 at halftime. Serbia-Montenegro, bronze medalist at the 2000 Sydney Games, led all the way in its 7-3 win against Greece to set up a showdown with Hungary in the championship match. Tony Azevedo scored three goals and the United States advanced to a playoff for seventh place with a 6-5 win over Australia. The Americans led 3-0 in the first half and 5-2 in the third period. The U.S. team will face Italy, which defeated Croatia 11-7 thanks to three goals from center Fabio Bencivenga.
Sheryl Swoopes made three big plays in the final minutes to help the United States squeeze out a 66-62 semifinal victory over Russia. The Americans, who won gold at the past two Olympics, will face Australia in the final on Saturday.
With her team clinging to a 60-58 lead, Swoopes buried a jumper from the left wing with 3:54 remaining, just beating the shot clock. She deflected a Russian shot at the other end, then scored again, hitting a 10-footer from the left baseline to make it 64-58 with 3:15 left.
When Lisa Leslie fed Tina Thompson for a layup, it was 66-58 with 2:50 to go, enough of a cushion for the United States to hold on for its 24th straight victory in the Olympics.Lauren Jackson, the WNBA's MVP with the Seattle Storm last season, had 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead Australia past Brazil. That set up a rematch of the gold medal game in Sydney four years ago, when the United States beat the Aussies 76-54.
DIVINGMathew Helm of Australia was the top qualifier with 513.06 points in 10-meter platform diving. Alexandre Despatie of Canada, silver medalist in 3-meter springboard, was second with 500.55.
Three-time world champion Zsuzsanna Voros of Hungary won the gold medal in the women's modern pentathlon. Voros had a 41-second head start on her nearest rival entering the final 3-kilometer run and had time at the end to grab a Hungarian flag from the stands and unfurl it while jogging down the home stretch.Latvia's Jelena Rublevska was able to make up about half the difference, but couldn't catch Voros and ended up with the silver medal. Georgina Harland of Britain won the run, passing 11 women to move up from 14th place to take the bronze medal.
BOXINGAndre Ward advanced to the final of the 81-kilogram division by defeating Uzbekistan's Utkirbek Haydarov 17-15. Ward, from Oakland, Calif., boxer scored two punches in the final seconds to become the only U.S. fighter to advance to a gold-medal bout. In the final Sunday he will face Magomed Aripgadjiev of Belarus. Andre Dirrell of Flint. Mich. lost his semifinal bout to Gennadiy Golovkin of Kazakhstan 23-18 in the 75kg class. The powerful Cuban team advanced seven fighters to the finals and British teenager Amir Khan advanced in the 60kg division.
RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICSMary Sanders, the only U.S. rhythmic gymnastics representative, failed to make it out of qualifying, finishing 15th out of 24 gymnasts. Only the top 10 advanced to Sunday's all-around final. Defending world champion Alina Kabaeva of Russia was first with 105.875 points. Fellow Russian Irina Tchachina finished second. Anna Bessonova of Ukraine was third.
SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMINGThe Russians, overcoming a glitch in their music that forced them to start over, completed a sweep of the synchronized swimming golds with a team performance that received perfect 10s across the board in artistic impression. The Japanese took silver and the Americans were third. Tammy Crow helped the Americans win the bronze. The 27-year-old Californian pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter in a February 2003 wreck that killed her boyfriend, Cody Tatro, and 12-year-old Brett Slinger. The sentence was delayed so Crow could compete in the Olympics.
Chris Kappler, of Pittstown, N.J., took bronze in show jumping and was relieved not just to win a medal but to learn his horse which broke down on the course was not seriously hurt. Kappler's horse, Royal Kaliber, was taken from the Olympic arena in a trailer and examined at the onsite veterinarian clinic. Officials said the horse, which strained a front leg tendon during a timed jumpoff, would be fine. Ireland's Cian O'Connor won the gold riding Waterford Crystal. Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa won silver by default after Kappler pulled up. He had eight faults in the first round and jumped clean in the second.