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Olympic Legends – Laura Badea

Today’s edition of Olympic Legends devoted to iconic Romanian athletes features Laura Badea, the only Romanian Olympic gold medalist in an individual women’s fencing event.

Laura Badea / Photo: Agerpres
Laura Badea / Photo: Agerpres

, 29.05.2024, 13:45

Laura Badea was born in Bucharest on March 29, 1970. She took up athletics and handball in school. At the age of 13, she enrolled in the fencing team at a local sports club in Bucharest. In November 2004, at the end of an exceptional career, having won the Olympic foil gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta, but also numerous medals in World and European championships, both individually and with Romania’s team, Laura Badea retired. Years later we interviewed her, asking her first to tell us more about the early days of her international career.

 

 

“My first international achievement was at a competition in Bulgaria, in 1986. I finished second, in the seniors competition… It was a good performance. My coach was there with me, which perhaps also inspired me. After the competition, I realized I could do more, I had a chance to get onto the podium, so I worked harder. I even did three training sessions a day. It was very difficult for me, it was quite a difficult period, but the results would soon come. In 1987, I won the Romanian Cup in the seniors competition despite terrible odds, competing against Reka Szabo, Elisabeta Tufan and Claudia Grigorescu. It was a great feat to become national champion or to win the Romanian Cup. Then, I managed to rank 6th at the 1990 World Championships. I had a chance at winning a medal, but I missed it, maybe because of the refereeing, maybe because I wasn’t used to international competitions yet, because, as you well know, it was hard to get out, to take part in competitions abroad during Ceaușescu’s regime. Now, it’s much easier, you can take part in competitions, get to know your opponents as a junior, so it’s much more, easier. For me it was a good result and it was the start of good results in World and European Championships”.

 

 

What followed was an exceptional international career.

 

 

“In 1991, I was part of the team that ranked 4th at the World Seniors Championships in Hungary, a good result. And just like that, in 1992, I was called up for team event in Barcelona, winning the Olympic bronze medal, which I helped win. Then there was the world team gold. I won two medals, bronze and silver at the European Senior Championships. Then there was the world team event, where I think I had a special contribution. I managed to turn the final against Italy in our favor. Italy was leading 4-3. Had I lost that match against Valentina Vezzali, who was leading 4-0, the match would have been over, we would have won silver. But I turned the score around and won that bout 5-4. Romania has back in the game, the score was 4-4 and Elisabeta Tufan had the last bout, which she won and that’s how we became the new world champions. And we mustn’t forget that Reka Szabo also won the seniors world title, while I ranked 6th”.

 

 

After retirement, Laura Badea was the director of the Romanian Olympic Academy over 2011-2017, advisor to the president of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee over 2011-2017. She was also president of the Romanian Fencing Federation over March 2017 – January 2018. (VP)

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