Olympic Surfing Hopeful Katherine Diaz Dies After Being Struck By Lightning While Training
Katherine Diaz, an Olympic surfing hopeful from El Salvador, has died after being struck by lightning as she trained.
The 22-year-old had just begun a training session on Friday, March 19, near her home in El Tunco. Shortly after entering the water, she was hit by the lightning.
Emergency services attended the scene and attempted to revive her, but she passed away on the beach. According to Spanish newspaper AS, residents were caught off guard by a change in the weather, explaining: ‘The sky was clear and it was an unforeseen storm that did not seem to carry much electrical intensity either.’
As reported by The Guardian, Diaz was training ahead of competing in the ISA World Surf Games in El Salvador this May, in which she would have fought for a qualifying spot in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the International Surfing Association wrote: ‘It is with a heavy heart that the ISA has learned about the passing of El Salvador’s Katherine Diaz.’
It added: ‘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 ISA World Surfing Games and ISA World Junior Surfing Championship.’
The post concluded: ‘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 Salvadoran Surf Federation also wrote on social media: ‘A great athlete who has represented our country has left us. See you soon, great warrior. El Salvador is in mourning.’
Among the tributes online, Central American Art tweeted: ‘So sad to share the news of Salvadoran surfer, Katherine Diaz’s passing. She was one of El Salvador’s most popular surf athletes with large recognition for popularising women’s surfing in El Salvador.’
It added: ‘Her surfing legacy started when she was a child in her home in La Libertad, where she would compete in local surf competitions and started gaining recognition by winning competitions and later becoming the first woman in El Salvador’s national surf team to go on to represent.’
El Salvador’s tourism minister Morena Valdez also wrote: ‘You will always be present in the surfing history of #ElSalvador. Your waves will always remember you in this paradise. Rest in peace Katherine Diaz.’
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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CreditsInternational Surfing Association/Facebook and 1 other
International Surfing Association/Facebook