gabby-douglas-gold-medal-AP-athlete-of-the-year-2012-olympics-2016.jpgOlympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, 16, has been named the Associated Press 2012 female athlete of the year, winning out over fellow Olympian Missy Franklin and tennis star Serena Williams.

Douglas received 48 votes from U.S. editors and news directors, while Franklin got 41 and Williams won 24.

However, this gold-medal winner, who turns 17 on New Year’s Eve, will be taking the year off from competing in 2013, according to the Des Moines Register (per USA Today).

“She deserves to enjoy for herself all the sunshine stuff,” her coach, Liang Chow, says. “When it’s time for her to come back, she will know it. She can take as many years as she wants. This is America.”

But “as many years as she wants” may be fairly short, as reports that Douglas will be back for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Posted by:Jennifer Harper