Salvadoran surfer killed by lightning while training for Olympic qualifier

Katherine Diaz struck just after entering the water on Friday at El Tunco Beach

El Salvadoran surfer Katherine Diaz (not pictured) was struck by lightning while training near her home. Getty Images
El Salvadoran surfer Katherine Diaz (not pictured) was struck by lightning while training near her home. Getty Images

Salvadoran surfer Katherine Diaz has been killed after being struck by lightning while training for a qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 22-year-old was struck just after entering the water on Friday at El Tunco Beach, about 16 kilometres south of capital San Salvador, local media reported.

"Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all, as a global ambassador of the sport," the International Surfing Association (ISA) said in one of many tributes posted on social media.

El Salvador's National Institute of Sports head Yamil Bukele paid tribute to Diaz on Twitter, saying he was "very sorry" for the loss and offering "solidarity" with her friends and family.

"Her loss in the waves hurts and impacts us," teammate Josselyn Alabi said.

Diaz had been preparing for the ISA World Surfing Games, which will be held from May 29 to June 6 at the La Bocana and El Sunzal beaches in El Salvador.

The top seven women at the event who have not already qualified will earn a place at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, where surfing will be a medal sport for the first time.

Updated: March 22, 2021 07:40 PM

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