INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 21, 2012 – 2012 Olympic all-around gold-medalist Gabrielle Douglas of Virginia Beach, Va./Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance, was named the Associated Press’ 2012 Female Athlete of the Year, beating out the likes of Missy Franklin, Alex Morgan and Serena Williams. A panel of AP sports editors from around the United States votes on the award, which has been given annually since 1931. Douglas is the fourth-ever gymnast, male or female, to make the list, joining Olga Korbut (1972), Nadia Comaneci (1976) and Mary Lou Retton (1984).
“Gabby captured the hearts of Olympic fans around the world this past summer with her bright smile and personality while helping the U.S. women win the team title and then capturing the coveted Olympic all-round title in London,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “Gabby is very deserving of this worldwide recognition, not only for her athletic accomplishments but also for her impact on women’s sports in general. Her feats in London were a watershed moment, as were the accomplishments of Olga, Nadia and Mary Lou.
“Gabby is a true champion in every way,” said Penny. “She has chartered her own course, never stopped believing in herself or her teammates, and has demonstrated the passion and dedication necessary for success.
At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Douglas helped Team USA to its second team gold medal in history and won the individual all-around gold medal. Douglas’ all-around win was the first for an African American and the fourth overall for the United States. Douglas is one of three U.S. women, along with Shannon Miller (1996) and Aly Raisman of Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics (2012), to have won two Olympic gold medals in gymnastics. Douglas also won the all-around at the U.S. Olympic Trials to automatically qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team. At the Visa Championships, she won the U.S. uneven bars title, as well as the all-around silver medal and floor exercise bronze. Earlier this year, she was named the Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Sportswoman of the Year.”
On the men’s side, swimming’s Michael Phelps was named Male Athlete of the Year, finishing ahead of LeBron James and Usain Bolt. This is the second time Phelps has received this award.