Surfing fans are in mourning after news broke that Olympic hopeful Katherine Diaz died after being struck by lightning.
The 22-year-old surfer from El Salvador was training to compete in the Tokyo Olympics this summer, according to Cancha. She was surfing in the water at El Salvador’s El Tunco beach when the lighting strike happened. Diaz died at the scene before paramedics could arrive.
Diaz’s uncle, Beto Diaz, told Cancha that he was with his niece when she died. “Upon reaching the beach, Katherine met a German friend, who was also going surfing at the time,” said Beto. “Katherine approached to hug her, as soon as she finished hugging her, the noise was heard. She—the friend—was thrown by the force of the lightning strike too, the board threw me. Katherine passed away instantly.”
According to the Olympic Channel, the sky was clear and the storm was “unforeseen.” Diaz was training for the ISA World Surf Games in El Salvador, which is a qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics, the Olympic Channel reported. Surfing will make its debut as an Olympic sport this year.
A post shared by KATHERINE DIAZ (@katherinecook7)
The International Surfing Association (ISA) shared the news of Diaz’s passing on Twitter, writing that she “embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all, as a global ambassador of the sport.”
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