Rebeca Andrade Achieved a Historic Margin of Victory at the 2022 World Championships

At the 2022 World Championships Rebeca Andrade won the All-Around by a Margin of Victory (MOV) of 1.500 points. To put that figure in perspective, it ranks as the 5th highest MOV in the history of women’s gymnastics when counting all competitions from 1950-present. But being “only” the 5th best MOV in history significantly undersells what Rebeca Andrade achieved at the 2022 World Championships.

Let’s look at the four competitions that rank higher than Andrade-2022 in MOV.

The competition in the #1 spot and the record for the largest MOV in gymnastics history was Helena Rakoczy at the 1950 World Championships.

To give a brief overview to the story of Rakoczy-1950, the 1950 World Championships have the distinction of being far and away the worst attended gymnastics competition at the Group-1 level. All the top teams were either unable to, or chose not to attend. Giving this particular competition participation rates that rank below the 1984 Olympics by a significant margin. But Helena Rakoczy was in attendance. She was a legitimate Hall of Fame gymnast, one of the best in the world at the time, and this competition was a complete mismatch between Rakoczy and everyone else.

As a result, Helena Rakoczy was able to absolutely dominate the competition. Helena demolished this field to such an extent that Rakoczy-1950 comes in either 1st-place or very close to 1st-place in every single metric or ranking used to measure dominance in a single competition. Rakoczy’s 1950 stat line is such an outlier and impossible to top, that in the past I’ve advocated that anytime a Rakoczy-1950 stat line comes in first place, the “true” leader of that metric is whoever finished 2nd.

So, who finished in 2nd place?

It was Simone Biles, who not only has the 2nd highest MOV, but the 3rd-highest and 4th-highest as well.

This brings us to Rebeca Andrade who sits in the #5 position after these two legends. Rebeca Andrade is the third best gymnast to do it. But considering that most treat Simone Biles in a class of her own, and Helena Rakoczy was also in a class of her own in 1950, it would be accurate to say that Rebeca Andrade accomplished the greatest MOV in gymnastics history after outlier examples are purged from the data.

This result is historic, not just because it demonstrates how much of a crowning achievement Andrade’s 2022 All-Around result really was, it is a watershed moment for the sport. What Rebeca did was completely change our historical interpretations of the current open-ended scoring system. The most important sentence in this entire article is this:

Margin of Victory (MOV) is heavily dependent upon which era a gymnast competed in.

One example of this comes from the late 1980s and early 1990s. From 1985-1994 there were eight competitions held at the World Championships and Olympic level. Six of them are in the top-7 smallest MOV of all time.

Helena Rakoczy was able to dominate the MOV statistics in 1950 because the opposing competitive field was so weak, but she also had another critical advantage. At the 1950 World Championships women’s gymnastics used a 100-point scoring system. This was larger than any other scoring system used in the 72 years since. The larger the scoring system, the more it inflates the margin of victory. This most certainly was a contributing factor as to why Simone Biles could rank 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the MOV rankings, but surpassing Rakoczy-1950 has proven to be challenging.

But no particular rule change is thought to have had a greater impact on MOV than the 2006 decision to move gymnastics from a closed scoring system, to an open ended one. In theory, this particular scoring system meant the top gymnasts were no longer limited by a score ceiling and could compile a massive lead over their opponents as a competition progressed.

At the 2007 World Championships Shawn Johnson proved this theory true by winning the All-Around with an MOV of 1.250 points. The largest such lead since Vera Caslavska’s legendary performance at the 1968 Olympics. But the trend didn’t hold elsewhere. In 2006, 2008, and 2009 the MOVs were so small, that even if all three of them were combined they would still be lower than Johnson’s 2007 MOV.

But then in 2010 Aliya Mustafina recorded a MOV of 1.034 points and became only the second gymnast to compile a MOV of 1.000+ points in the last 40 years. The trend of massive MOVs seemed to have returned. But in the following year the pendulum swung yet again. At the 2011 World Championships the MOV was the 8th smallest on record.

Women’s gymnastics was at an impasse and the sport didn’t know what to expect. Was this an era where blowout wins were going to become the expected norm? Or would closely contested battles continue to rule the day? But the early returns did seem to hint that while historic MOVs of 1.000+ points were possible, the majority of competitions would have MOV’s at around .250 points or less.

But before that trend had a chance to establish itself, Simone Biles came along and she would spend years skewing the data with her historic dominance. Even though open-ended scoring has been in place for 17 years, because of Simone Biles we only have 11 years of results to look at if one wished to measure MOV that wasn’t influenced by an outlier. Simone Biles did not compete in the All-Around at the 2021 Olympics and 2021 World Championships.

In Simone’s absence the MOV fell to .135 points (Sunisa Lee) and .292 points (Angelina Melnikova). It was as if nature had corrected itself and now gymnastics was finally getting a picture of what MOV should look like in an open ended code without Simone Biles skewing the results. If the 2021 Olympics and 2021 World Championships were producing low MOV results, it was because the sport was once again shifting in that direction.

When Sunisa Lee won the All-Around at the 2021 Olympics, her final score of 57.433 points would have placed her 21st out of 24 total gymnasts during the 2008 Olympic All-Around Finals. At the 2008 Olympics the gymnast who finished in 2nd-to-last place in All-Around Finals would have placed 5th at the 2021 Olympics.

Ever since 2008 the Code of Points has evolved to produce lower All-Around scores, in the process shrinking the margin of victory. The historic MOVs of 1.000+ points that Shawn Johnson-2007 and Aliya Mustafina-2010 obtained would most likely had been considerably smaller had they occurred only a couple years later.

Of the last five All-Around Champions who were not named “Simone Biles,” their average MOV was just .165 points. If 2021 was the year of Sunisa Lee and Angelina Melnikova, it also felt like a ringing endorsement that in the post-Simone era, small MOV results were here to stay. It was starting to feel like Shawn Johnson, Aliya Mustafina, and Simone Biles were the outliers. That their style of massive MOV wins in the All-Around was a rapidly dying trend.

That was until Rebeca Andrade won the 2022 All-Around by 1.500 points and absolutely shattered such notions.

With Rebeca Andrade being the latest gymnast to exceed 1.000+ points in MOV, more gymnasts have now done so in the 17 years from 2006-present than the 55 years from 1950-2005. But the most fascinating aspect is not that Andrade surpassed 1.000 points, but that she surpassed 1.400 points.

The 1.400 threshold is associated with Vera Caslavska and is something of a Holy Grail in women’s gymnastics. It is one of the most impressive milestones any gymnast has ever achieved. Caslavska is the only gymnast to win a gold medal on all five individual events at the Olympics. That is a record exclusive only to her and remains so to this day. But Caslavska’s other legendary feat was her 1.400 MOV at the 1968 Olympics, the highest such MOV under the 1952-2005 scoring system.

As the decades passed Caslavska’s 1968 MOV of 1.400 points only seemed to grow in terms of historical significance. Time and time again it proved to be a barrier no one could reach. This barrier was so insurmountable that it took 48 years for another gymnast to finally surpass it. But even then, it took the combination of a major rule change (the 2006 implementation of open ended scoring) and a gymnast of the most extraordinary talent (Simone Biles) to finally surpass it.

When a historic record falls, it is often a “passing of the torch” moment. But even as Simone Biles broke Caslavska’s mark, it only seemed to solidify Caslavska’s legacy. That Vera’s mark was so unobtainable, only the extenuating circumstance of a new scoring model combined with a gymnast of unprecedented dominance could actually make breaking this record possible. Strangely enough, the dynamic between Biles and Caslavska over the MOV record only seemed to empower the legacies of both gymnasts.

Vera Caslavska became the legend of the past who left such a powerful legacy, only Simone Biles was worthy of breaking one of her crowning achievements. Simone Biles became the legend of the modern era who had a career so historic, she broke a record that appeared to be unbreakable. Because only Simone Biles was able to break Caslavska’s mark, even after ten other All-Around Champions were unable to do the same in the new post-2005 scoring era, it truly looked that Caslavska’s mark of 1.400 points would continue to stand the test of time.

That Vera Caslavska’s mark would be so historic, that in the years since Simone Biles and only Simone Biles could ever break it. The history of 1.400 would remain intact and it would remain one of the most ultra-exclusive milestones in women’s gymnastics.

Then along came Rebeca Andrade.

There’s a lot of history involved to the MOV Rebeca Andrade achieved in 2022. Rebeca Andrade just joined Simone Biles as only the second gymnast ever to surpass Caslavska-1968. Rebeca didn’t just make history in Liverpool-2022, she changed historical narratives for the future. That after the relatively small MOVs from Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Morgan Hurd, Sunisa Lee, and Angelina Melnikova, the trend of massive 1.000+ MOVs was not going to die out upon Biles’ retirement. That the historic threshold of 1.400 points wouldn’t be exclusive in the post-2006 era, and being in the conversation for Greatest Of All Time wasn’t a prerequisite for achieving it.

There are two ways to interpret Andrade-2022.

The first is the dismissive interpretation. To say that like Rakoczy-1950, this stat line needs to be taken with a grain of salt. That the size of the MOV was skewed by country limits (Jordan Chiles), the absence of Rebeca’s biggest rival (Sunisa Lee), and the Russian ban taking out three leading All-Arounders (Viktoria Listunova, Vladislava Urazova, & Angelina Melnikova). That in the end, Andrade-2022 will become a meaningless statistic of no historical significance. Even if it is considered impressive regardless of context.

But then there is the optimistic interpretation, that to recall a particular question that has been bothering me ever since Simone Biles won the All-Around at the 2016 Olympics. When Simone retires, how long will it take before gymnastics will experience a legend of her caliber ever again?

When Larissa Latynina retired, gymnastics didn’t have to wait very long. Her heir-apparent was already competing (Caslavska). When Caslavska retired, the next great legend (Ludmilla Turischeva) was already competing. And when Turischeva retired, once again the next great gymnastics legend was already there to take her place (Nadia Comaneci).

It has always been a wonder, when Simone Biles’ retires will gymnastics have to spend decades waiting to see the likes of her again in future generations? Or will Biles found a new dynasty like Latynina had done where her success will be immediately replicated by a new wave of legends? When a gymnast won the 2022 World Championships by a margin of victory of 1.500 points, perhaps this prophecy is already coming true.

That the heir apparent to Simone Biles and the next gymnastics legend is already here, and her name is Rebeca Andrade.

4 thoughts on “Rebeca Andrade Achieved a Historic Margin of Victory at the 2022 World Championships

  1. Rebeca’s big win was definitely influenced by the ban on Russians, especially the absence of Angelina Melnikova as the then reigning world all around champion.

    But Rebeca didn’t have the best day during the all around competition, she had quite a big wobble on bars. If she’d hit on all apparatus, her margin of victory would have been even bigger.

    I really think that having had such a disastrous ACL injury history robbed Rebeca of the chance to be on par with Simone. She’s had to take so much time off recovering when she should have been at the peak of her career in her teens and very early twenties, and she will always have to be conservative with what skills she attempts in order to protect her knee.

    But she seems to have the innate explosive power that Simone has, or close to it, combined with superior elegance and artistry. I think if Rebeca had been luckier in avoiding injury, we would have had Rebeca vs Simone as an iconic sports rivalry.

    I also think if Simone does return, the current code would be much less favourable to her in terms of artistry deductions and she would have to shake up her floor and beam work entirely. More realistically, she might return as a vault specialist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh please. The Russians not being at Worlds had nothing to do with influencing Andrade as the winner. If you want to talk about Melnikova being the 2021 AA champion, then you might also put out the same statement since Melnikova won Worlds but without Andrade doing floor. If Andrade went for the all around at last worlds, Melnikova would not have won the crown and Andrade would be two time World AA champion.

      The way Melnikova has competed this year it is unlikely she would have beaten Jones or Gadirova for AA medal.

      Like

  2. I hope Japan WAG will win the gold medal for AA in world championships and Olympics soon ! Because i think if no name nation in gymnastics like Brazil can win the gold medal for AA then why the best gymnastics nation like Japan can’t do it ?!?! 😂

    Like

  3. I hope Japan WAG will win the gold medal for AA in world championships and Olympics soon ! Because i think if no name nation in gymnastics like Brazil can win the gold medal for AA then why the best gymnastics nation like Japan can’t do it ?!?! 😂

    Like

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