“Each new test is an opportunity to realize we can do far more than we think we can.”

Wise words from a woman who has lived them.

Michelle Evans has been a passionate martial artist since her 20s, earning her first black belt in her 30s. She is now a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo at the age of 44. She competed in the Netherlands at 42 and won a gold medal in sparring and a silver medal in patterns.

“Going out of our comfort zone isn’t something natural to us, but it’s what creates change and builds confidence little by little,” says Evans.

She is an instructor at Destiny Martial Arts and says knowing she is a role model for her students colours everything she does.

“It makes me take a hard look at who I am, what I stand for and what kind of example I want to set for them as well as my own kids,” she says.

The single mom says another reason martial arts appeal to her is that she can practice with her two boys.

“She is not only an exceptional athlete, but a role model for the club’s students and peers,” says Stephanie Ward, who nominated Evans for the award.