Mihai Claudiu Covaliu (born 5 November 1977 in Brașov) is a Romanian retired sabre fencer, Olympic champion in 2000 and world champion in 2005, and coach of the Romanian men's sabre team. He is also ex-president of the Romanian Fencing Federation and, from 2016, president of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee.

Mihai Covaliu
At the 2015 World Fencing Championships
Personal information
Full nameMihai Claudiu Covaliu
Born (1977-11-05) 5 November 1977 (age 46)
Braşov, Romania
Height1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight71 kg (157 lb)
ClubCS Dinamo București
FIE rankingranking (archive)
Medal record
Men's fencing
Representing  Romania
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2000 Sydney Individual sabre
Bronze medal – third place 2008 Beijing Individual sabre
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2005 Leipzig Individual sabre
Silver medal – second place 2003 Havana Individual sabre
Bronze medal – third place 2001 Nîmes Team sabre
Bronze medal – third place 2002 Lisbon Individual sabre
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2006 Izmir Team sabre
Bronze medal – third place 2001 Koblenz Team sabre
Bronze medal – third place 2002 Moscow Team sabre
Bronze medal – third place 2005 Zalaegerszeg Team sabre
Bronze medal – third place 2007 Ghent Individual sabre
Bronze medal – third place 2008 Kiev Individual sabre

Personal life


Covaliu's first sport was football.[1] He began fencing at age nine,[2] after coaches from CS Tractorul Brașov presented the sport to his school.[3] His mother encouraged him to persevere despite the harsh training methods used at the time.[3] In 1998 he joined the BNR Bucharest, a club supported by the National Bank of Romania, before transferring to CS Dinamo București, of which he is still a member as of 2014.[2]

Covaliu married in 2001 Irina Draghici, a member of the women's national sabre team. They have two children.[2] He graduated in physical education from the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iași and holds a master's degree in sport management.[2]


Covaliu (L) advises Tiberiu Dolniceanu during the 2013 World Fencing Championships

Covaliu underwent at CS Tractorul intensive training at the hand of several coaches and technicians, amongst which Mihai Ticușan, Gabriel Duția, Alexandru Chiculiță, Mihai Orița, Nicolae Dinu and Emilian Nuță.[4] In 2000 at the 2000 Summer Olympics he created a surprise by reaching the final, beating medal prospect Damien Touya of France along the way. Covaliu then disposed of Mathieu Gourdain 15–12 to earn the first Romanian gold medal in sabre and become number one in FIE rankings. For this performance he was named Master Emeritus in sport and commander of the Order For Merit.[4]

At the 2004 Summer Olympics, Covaliu was eliminated 15–14 in quarter-finals by Zsolt Nemcsik of Hungary, who eventually took the silver medal. Covaliu ended up number seven in the event. At the World Championships in Leipzig the year after, he made his way comfortably to the final, which he won 15–12 against three-time Olympic champion Stanislav Pozdnyakov of Russia. He was noted for his "enthusiasm, physical shape, virtuoso technique, simple fencing".[5] He dedicated his medal to his son Vlad, born a day before the departure for Leipzig.[1]

At the 2008 Summer Olympics Covaliu reached easily the quarter-finals. He had a tight 15–13 win against Aliaksandr Buikevich of Belarus, then met Nicolas Lopez of France.[6] Despite having always beaten Lopez before, Covaliu was defeated 15–13 after leading 11–7 in the last period of the bout. He then met another Frenchman, Julien Pillet, and won 15–11 to earn the bronze medal.[6]

After Beijing Covaliu retired to become the head coach of the Romanian sabre team. Under his training, Romania won the silver medal in the 2009 European Championships at Plovdiv, then the gold medal at the World Championships in Antalya, Rareș Dumitrescu taking the silver in the individual event. For this performance, Covaliu was made a knight in the Order of Faithful Service.[7] Cosmin Hănceanu and Romania earned the silver at the 2010 World Fencing Championships in Paris, and Romania finished second in the London 2012 Summer Olympics.[3] Covaliu was afterwards promoted to the rank of officer of the Order of Faithful Service.

In April 2013, Covaliu was elected president of the Romanian Fencing Federation after incumbent Ana Pascu decided to not to run again.[8] He remained the coach of the men's sabre team, who earned the silver at the 2013 World Fencing Championships in Budapest, Tiberiu Dolniceanu finishing at the third place in the individual event. The same year, Covaliu was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Fencing Federation.[2]


  1. ^ a b Daniela Ionescu (29 July 2010). "Mihai Covaliu, D'Artagnan de România". România Liberă.
  2. ^ a b c d e International Fencing Federation (ed.). "Covaliu, Mihai Claudiu (ROU)". Archived from the original on 6 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Daniel Remes (5 January 2014). "ProSport vă prezintă românii din Hall of Fame-ul Federaţiei Internaţionale de Scrimă. Interviu exclusiv cu Mihai Covaliu: "România va avea un nou campion olimpic la scrimă în 2016"". ProSport (in Romanian).
  4. ^ a b Nicu, Alexe, ed. (2002), "Federația Română de Scrimă" (PDF), Educaţiei Fizice și Sportului din România (in Romanian), vol. 1, Bucharest: Aramis, p. 1039
  5. ^ Jean-Marie Safra (October 2005). "The Leipzig World Championships–The crowning of legendary champions" (PDF). Escrime XXI (53): 12–15.
  6. ^ a b Bogdan Costea (13 August 2008). "Mihai Covaliu, bronz olimpic la sabie!". România Liberă.
  7. ^ Romanian Chamber of Deputies (ed.). "Decret nr.1.501 din 20 octombrie 2009 privind conferirea unor decorații".
  8. ^ "Mihai Covaliu, ales preşedinte al Federaţiei Române de Scrimă". agerpres.ro (in Romanian). 24 April 2013.