The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Michelle Brandes is a busy student at Mount Royal University (MRU) who balances classes with volunteering and competing in Taekwondo at an international level.

She qualified for the world championships to be held Oct. 9-16 in Dublin, Ireland. It will be Brandes’ second crack at the world championships and this time she will be accompanied by about 60 other athletes from Canada. She qualified by competing in the Junior/Female 65 kg-plus division — her first time participating in that weight category.

Optimized Brandes2 1Brandes (in red) sparring during her gold medal match at the 2017 National Taekwondo Championships held in Quebec in June.  Photo courtesy of Emily Brandes-Meijers

She is also enrolled in the bachelor of general science program at MRU and will be majoring in health science. Brandes is planning to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Brandes was in the second grade when she was handed a pamphlet at school about taekwondo.

“My dad wanted me to learn self-defence as a hobby,” she said.

Well, it became more than just a hobby as Brandes eventually went on to compete at many different levels — provincials, nationals, and internationals.

Optimized Brandes3Brandes works on her pattern. Her coach, Grant Arden says, "When I give her something to work on she works at it until perfection." Photo courtesy of Emily Brandes-Meijers

In 2014 in Regina, Brandes won the sparring category in the junior girls heavyweight black-belt division. That win at the Canadian National Taekwondo championship landed her in Italy for her first world championships in 2015.

Although she was defeated in the first round, she said “it was a great experience.”

Brandes currently trains at Arden’s Taekwondo in northeast Calgary. Sometimes her classes at Mount Royal would go as late as 6 p.m. and then she would have to “leave right from school” to make it to practice on time. She trains about three days a week.

“All of our students, younger and older, look up to her because of her work ethic,” said her coach Grant Arden.

On top of school, training and competing in taekwondo, Brandes also enjoys volunteering with Pound Rescue in Okotoks, something she has been doing for a long time. She also volunteers some of her time to tutoring students. Brandes feels that it is important to “stay active in her community”

Arden says Brandes is “a very impressive young lady that works hard in her training and, schooling and volunteer time. She is truly an inspiration for all of our younger and older students.”

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