Gregory Bull Associated Press Gymnast Gabby Douglas won the Olympic all-around gold medal in London. She was later surprised how much her life changed.

Gymnast Douglas top female athlete

Published: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7C

When Gabby Douglas allowed herself to dream of being the Olympic champion, she imagined having a nice little dinner with family and friends to celebrate. Maybe she'd make an appearance here and there.

"I didn't think it was going to be crazy," Douglas said, laughing. "I love it. But I realized my perspective was going to have to change."

Just a bit.

The teenager has become a worldwide star since winning the Olympic all-around title in London, the first African American to claim gymnastics' biggest prize. And now she has earned another honor. Douglas was selected the Associated Press' Female Athlete of the Year, edging swimmer Missy Franklin in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors that was announced Friday.

Douglas received 48 of 157 votes, seven more than Franklin, who won four gold medals and a bronze in London.

Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Olympic gold two years after her career was nearly derailed by a series of health problems, was third (24).

Britney Griner, who led Baylor (40-0) to the NCAA basketball title, and skier Lindsey Vonn each received 18 votes.

NHL players take a step toward union dissolution

NHL players are a step closer to dissolving their union. In a vote this week, union members decisively agreed to give the players' association's executive board the power to file a "disclaimer of interest" until Jan. 2.

A person familiar with the outcome of the vote told the Associated Press the measure was approved by a vote of 706-22 (97 percent), easily reaching the two-thirds majority that was necessary.

However, the executive board hasn't made plans to meet to discuss whether to file the disclaimer. If the Jan. 2 deadline passes, another authorization vote could be held to approve a later filing.

General

• The NCAA released a package of proposals that would change the recruiting calendar, lift restrictions on how and how often coaches can contact recruits, and allow athletes to accept more money for participating in non-scholastic events. All the proposals are expected to be voted on Jan. 19 at the NCAA's annual convention near Dallas. If approved, they could take effect Aug. 1.

• Cycling's governing body is introducing equal prize money for men and women at most world championship events. The decision takes effect in January, with the International Cycling Union ruling "no distinction should be made between the achievements of men and women."

• The Iraqi Football Association denies it is negotiating with Argentine great Diego Maradona to coach its national team.

– Associated Press

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