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Olympic surfing hopeful killed by lightning strike while training at El Salvador beach

Olympic surfing hopeful, 22, dies after being struck by lightning while training at El Salvador beach

  • Katherine Diaz, 22, was struck by lightning shortly after entering the ocean
  • She was training at El Tunco beach, south of the capital San Salvador 
  • Medics went to the beach but the surfer was pronounced dead at the scene
  • She was the daughter of the President of the Salvadoran Surf Federation

An Olympic surfing hopeful was killed after being struck by lightning while training at a beach in El Salvador. 

Katherine Diaz, 22, was struck by lightning shortly after entering the ocean at El Tunco beach, south of the capital San Salvador, at around 5pm on Friday. 

Emergency services and medics were called to try to save her, but Diaz was pronounced dead at the scene.   

Katherine Diaz, 22, was struck by lightning shortly after entering the ocean at El Tunco beach on Friday

The 22-year-old had already competed in international surfing events for El Salvador and was hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games

The 22-year-old had already competed in international surfing events for El Salvador and was hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games 

She was training for the upcoming ISA World Surf Games in El Salvador, which she hoped would lead to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, the first Games to include surfing. 

The event, which is due to take place in late May, is the last qualifying hurdle for the Olympics.   

The 22-year-old had already competed in international surfing events for El Salvador. 

The Salvadoran Surf Federation confirmed the news on social media. 

Diaz is the daughter of the Federation’s President Jose Diaz.  

Her brother Bamba Diaz paid tribute to her online, writing: ‘Sister we will always carry you in our hearts. God decided to take you now. We already miss you. Love forever.’   

President of the Salvadoran Sports Institute Yamil Bukele also shared his heartfelt sympathy in a statement.   

He said: ‘I just found out about the death of Salvadoran surfer Katherine Díaz.

‘I am very sorry for this death and I join the pain that overwhelms her family. Our solidarity with ‘el Bamba’ and the surf family. Peace for your soul.’

She was training for the upcoming ISA World Surf Games in El Salvador where she hoped to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, the first Games to include surfing

She was training for the upcoming ISA World Surf Games in El Salvador where she hoped to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, the first Games to include surfing

A funeral for the 22-year-old was held on Sunday. Her coffin was surrounded by her surfboard, flowers, and pictures

A funeral for the 22-year-old was held on Sunday. Her coffin was surrounded by her surfboard, flowers, and pictures

The Salvadoran Surf Federation confirmed the news on social media. Diaz was the daughter of the Federation's President Jose Diaz

The Salvadoran Surf Federation confirmed the news on social media. Diaz was the daughter of the Federation’s President Jose Diaz

Her brother Bamba Diaz paid tribute online, saying the family 'already miss' the young Olympic hopeful

Her brother Bamba Diaz paid tribute online, saying the family ‘already miss’ the young Olympic hopeful

A funeral for the 22-year-old was held on Sunday, where her surfboard, trophies, medal and flowers were arranged around her coffin.

The International Surfing Association tweeted: ‘It is with a heavy heart that the ISA has learned about the passing of El Salvador’s Katherine Diaz.

‘Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all, as a global ambassador of the sport. 

‘She excelled at the international competition level, representing her country with pride at both the World Surfing Games and ISA World Junior Surfing Championship.’ 

‘We send our heartfelt condolences to Katherine’s family, the surfers of El Salvador, and to all those in the international surfing community whose lives she touched.

‘We will never forget you.’

The 22-year-old had already competed in international surfing events for El Salvador before her untimely death

The 22-year-old had already competed in international surfing events for El Salvador before her untimely death

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