Katherine Diaz: Olympic hopeful surfer killed by lightning while training for qualifying competition

An Olympic surfing hopeful from El Salvador died while training for an upcoming qualifying competition, the country’s surfing federation announced.

Katherine Diaz, 22, was in the water at El Tunco beach in southwest El Salvador on Friday when she was struck by lightning, the country’s federation said.

She just had entered the water to start a training session on Friday near her home in El Tunco when she was struck.

“Katherine came over to hug her [friend], as soon as she finished hugging her, the noise was heard,” Diaz’s uncle, Beto Diaz, who says he was in the water with her, told a newspaper in El Salvador.

“She, the friend, was thrown by the force of the lightning strike too, the board threw me back. Katherine died instantly.”

“Katherine was a girl very passionate about sports, she was very motivated and happy for the event that was approaching,” a statement said.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) 2021 Surf City El Salvador World Surfing Games are set to be held from May 29 to June 6 at the La Bocana and El Sunzal beaches and will act as the final qualifying tournament for Tokyo 2020, where surfing will be making its debut Olympic appearance.