Slo Mo: A Podcast with Mo Gawdat / Catalina Pelaez - Surviving a Terrorist Attack, Prioritizing Peace, and Becoming a Champion

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Episode notes

Today's guest is Catalina Pelaez. A few weeks before this recording, I received a message on Instagram from her brother, Daniel. He said the following about his sister:

Mo, this is Catalina, my younger sister. Cata is one of the most inspiring people in my life. Her journey, dedication, perseverance and positivism is truly admirable, and her testimony for sure will inspire thousands. Cata is Colombia's top women's professional squash player and has obtained numerous athletic achievements  within the squash world (Pan American Games, World Games, Doubles World Championships, National Tournaments, etc.). Her talent and passion for squash provided her with the opportunity to play and study at Trinity University in Hartford, CT, USA where she was team captain. Her joy for Squash is not limited to her career itself. She helps promote squash via different programs across Colombia called Squash Urbano, which helps the less fortunate thrive through sports, providing them with more opportunities in education, development and integration.

First of all, there are few things more amazing than siblings loving and supporting each other. A big thanks to Daniel for being a great brother and getting us a great guest.

Second, I soon found out that, beyond her sport achievements, speaking to Catalina was going to be about a whole lot more than squash. At age 11, she was severely injured in the 2003 terrorist attack at the El Nogal club in Bogota, Colombia. Her journey from this trauma as a child to becoming Colombia's top squash player is incredible. Her personal transformation and quest to find forgiveness and peace in the memories of the attack is perhaps even more so.

Listen as we discuss: 

  • My love for Colombia.
  • Catalina's upbringing traveling around the world and her journey back to Colombia.
  • Why squash is such a unique game (and one that Egyptians actually win!)
  • Training as a professional athlete during lockdown.
  • The incredible story of Catalina surviving a terrorist bombing that killed 36 people.
  • How she bounced back from the injuries despite being so young.
  • Why memories of the attack affect her more as an adult than when it happened.
  • Facing the perpetrators of the terrorist bombing in a bid for truth and peace.
  • Would she change the past and avoid the attack if she could?

Instagram: @mo_gawdat
Facebook: @mo.gawdat.official
Twitter: @mgawdat
LinkedIn: /in/mogawdat
Website: mogawdat.com

Connect with Catalina Pelaez on Instagram @catalina.pelaez, Twitter @catapelaez4, on and on Facebook @catalinapelaezsquash

My new book, Scary Smart, is releasing September 30th. Pre-order your copy here!

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