Lightning kills 22-year-old Olympic surfing hopeful while she was training


  • Katherine Diaz, 22, was training for a shot to surf at the Olympics when she was killed by a lightning strike.
  • Her uncle, Beto Diaz, and her friend were with her in the water during the incident and were thrown back by the strength of the lightning.
  • A ceremony, “The Paddle Out”, will be held by El Salvador’s surfing federation (FESASURF) to honor Diaz.

It’s always heartbreaking when a life full of potential is cut short.

Katherine Diaz was hoping for a shot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where surfing would make its official Olympic debut. FESASURF, El Salvador’s surfing federation, confirmed that the 22-year-old died Friday.

Diaz was training in the water in southwest El Salvador at El Tunco beach when she was struck by lightning.

Diaz’s uncle, Beto Diaz, told a newspaper in El Salvador that he was in the water with her during the incident. She had gone to hug her friend and a noise was heard right after she finished. He said the force of the lightning strike threw back the friend while the board threw him, and “Katherine died instantly.”

The final qualifying tournament for the Olympics, the International Surfing Association (ISA) 2021 Surf City El Salvador World Surfing Games, is set for May 29 to June 6 at the La Bocana and El Sunzal beaches.

Katherine’s brother and president of FESASURF, Jose Diaz, said, “Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all.” He went on to describe how Diaz excelled at the sport on an “international competition level.”

FESASURF reposted photos of Diaz’s funeral which was held on Sunday. The pictures showed her surfboard and flowers next to her coffin. In a statement, they said that a ceremony in her honor, “The Paddle Out”, would be held next Tuesday.


Source: CNN

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