Olympic surfing hopeful Katherine Díaz dies in tragic lightning strike

Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY
·1 min read

Katherine Díaz, who held Olympic aspirations, died Friday after a tragic lightning strike in her native El Salvador. She was 22.

Díaz had been practicing near her home at the Pacific coast beach of El Tunco when she was hit by lightning.

The International Surfing Association wrote "Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all.

"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 will never forget you."

As surfing is set to make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games this summer, Díaz had been preparing to qualify through the ISA World Surf Games to be held this upcoming May in El Salvador. Per the Olympic channel, Díaz's father José is president of the the Salvadoran Surf Federation, which wrote on social media “See you soon, great warrior. El Salvador is in mourning.”

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Díaz also worked as a chef and had opened her own business in El Tunco.

A paddle-out ceremony in her honor will take place Tuesday, her brother posted on Instagram.

Contributing: Associated Press

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Katherine Diaz, surfing hopeful for Olymipcs, dies in lighting strike