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Kim Baldonado, Bobbie Eng
Gold-medal-winning gymnast McKayla Maroney flew into LAX on Wednesday and headed directly to her training gym, where she was welcomed by friends and fans with open arms. Kim Baldonado reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2012.
It was a heroine's welcome for gold medalist McKayla Maroney on Wednesday when she returned to her Westside Los Angeles gymnastics center after the London 2012 Olympics.
She was greeted by young gymnasts bearing roses at All Olympia Gymnastics Center. They even rolled out a red carpet for the 16-year-old.
"It was so amazing," Maroney said. "I immediately started getting super-duper emotional. I was just so shocked. ... It just meant so much to me, and I feel so happy right now."
Maroney won a gold medal in the women's team competition and a silver in the vault. But the medals were just part of Maroney's Olympic story.
During the latter medal ceremony, she made an dissatisfied expression that has come to be known as the "McKayla is not impressed" face. Images of Maroney making the face became an Internet sensation.
She took her online meme-hood lightly, even retweeting an image in which she appeared making the now-signature expression in a Peanuts cartoon.
"I don't regret anything. Everything happens for a reason," Maroney said. "I still thought it was funny even in the very beginning."
One of the banners that greeted her upon her return Wednesday night read: "We are impressed! Welcome back, McKayla!"
As for her future after gymnastics, this Olympian has her sights set on acting.
"I have an agent and I love fashion and modeling and all that kind of stuff," Maroney said. "It's definitely one of my other passions, other than gymnastics."