Gabby Douglas has been named The Associated Press’ female athlete of the year, capping off a year in which the young Olympian achieved helped the USA take gold and became a national sensation in the meantime.
During the 2012 London Olympics filled with breakout stars, perhaps none shined brighter than Gabby Douglas. She took home the women’s all-around gymnastics title, the first African-American gymnast to claim the prize, The Associated Press noted.
In winning AP athlete of the year, Gabby Douglas beat out another young Olympian. Swimmer Missy Franklin came in second in voting, receiving 41 of 157 votes to 48 votes for Douglas.
”I didn’t realize how much of an impact I made,” said Douglas, who turns 17 on Dec. 31. ”My mom and everyone said, ‘You really won’t know the full impact until you’re 30 or 40 years old.’ But it’s starting to sink in.”
With her ever-present smile and infectious personality, Gabby Douglas became incredibly popular both during and after the 2012 London Olympics. Going from a relatively unknown to gymnast to national sensation, Douglas seemed to handle the transition with ease as she made the rounds on television talk shows.
Douglas also helped open gymnastics up to new audiences, standing out as a role model to African-American gymnasts hoping to reach the biggest stage.
As sports writers conduct their annual look back at the year of sports, the performance of Gabby Douglas has stood out among the year’s best. Sports Illustrated writer Brian Cazeneuve noted that her performance at the 2012 Olympics made Gabby Douglas one of the most memorable athletes from the Summer Games.