Olympic Surfing Hopeful Fatally Struck by Lightning

Katherine Diaz planned to compete for El Salvador this summer
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2021 12:04 AM CDT
Olympic Hopeful Fatally Struck by Lightning While Training
Stock photo of the waterfront at El Tunco.   (Getty Images / AutumnSkyPhotography)

Katherine Diaz planned to compete for her home country of El Salvador when surfing makes its Olympic debut this summer. But the 22-year-old, the country's top surfer, was struck by lightning and killed Friday while training near her home in El Tunco, the Guardian reports. Per a Spanish-language newspaper, the sky was clear, and those on the beach were caught off-guard by the sudden change in weather when the storm started up. Diaz was training for a May tournament in El Salvador, which is to act as a qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics.

"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," the International Surfing Association says in a Facebook post. "A great athlete who has represented our country has left us,” the Salvadoran Surf Federation said in its own post. "See you soon, great warrior. El Salvador is in mourning." Diaz was the daughter of the federation's president, Olympic Channel reports. Diaz also worked as a chef and had opened her own business, ESPN reports. (More surfing stories.)

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