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Muenzer returns to work for one big party

Canadian Press

Edmonton — Olympic cycling gold medalist Lori-Ann Muenzer returned to her day job Friday, but working was the last thing on anyone's mind as the legal secretary spent the morning hugging her colleagues and receiving well-wishes.

Muenzer walked into her office at Field Law in downtown Edmonton to visit the people who have given her unflagging support to find her desk covered in Canadian flags, balloons, red-and-white streamers, stacks of cards and newspaper articles trumpeting her 500-metre sprint victory.

Her computer monitor had Our Golden Girl taped to it.

"Where am I supposed to work?" she jokingly asked about 100 co-workers and friends who had arranged a big breakfast spread for Canada's new Olympic hero.

Piped up a co-worker: "You're officially famous."

Colleague Tammy Wiebe, a marketing director at the law firm, said it's been hard to concentrate in the office since the night before Muenzer beat Russian Tamilla Abassova, 21, in the gold-medal sprint earlier this week.

"I don't think there's been any work done here since Monday night," Wiebe said.

The 38-year-old Muenzer, who has repeatedly commented that she's been as excited as a kid, acknowledged her life has probably changed forever.

"I don't think things are going to be quite the same as they were before," she said. "I'm still the same person, but I think before I was Canada's best-kept secret. Now the top just got blown off."

She said she'll probably hide her Lucky Loonie — all Canadian athletes in Athens received one — under the floor in the office's boardroom.

But she cautioned she isn't sure when she'll actually return to work. Muenzer said she'd like to make some public appearances and do some motivational speaking.

Friday's breakfast visit was the first of several events for the golden cyclist in Edmonton on Friday. Two public rallies were scheduled for later in the day. Several other events are planned to coincide with Edmonton's 100th birthday later this year.

Muenzer got her first taste of what to expect at the Edmonton International Airport late Thursday night where about 200 co-workers, family, friends and fans cheered and screamed as she walked through the arrival gate with her bicycle in tow.

One of the first people she hugged was her coach Steen Madsen, who could not afford to travel to Athens with his star pupil and had to advise her by phone.

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