A surfer who had hopes of qualifying for the Olympics has been killed by lightning on a beach in El Salvador, national sporting officials said Saturday.
Katherine Díaz Hernández, 22, was practising near her home at the Pacific coast beach of El Tunco when she was hit by lightning on Friday.
The president of the government’s Salvadoran Sports Institute, Yamil Bukele, posted a message expressing condolences to her family.
She had been training a global tournament, set to be held in El Salvador, that serves as a qualifying even for this year’s Summer Olympic Games.
Díaz also worked as a chef and had opened her own business in El Tunco.
The International Surfing Association paid an emotional tribute to Diaz over the weekend saying she ‘embodied the joy’ of surfing.
“It is with a heavy heart that the ISA has learned about the passing of El Salvador’s Katherine Diaz,” the association wrote on Instagram.
“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 at both the ISA World Surfing Games and ISA World Junior Surfing Championship.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to Katherine’s family, the surfers of El Salvador, and to all those in the international surfing community whose lives she touched.
“We will never forget you.”
The president of the Salvadoran Sports Institute, Yamil Bukele, also shared his condolences.
“I just found out about the death of Salvadoran surfer Katherine Díaz,” Bukele said.
“I am very sorry for this death and I join the pain that overwhelms her family. Our solidarity with ‘el Bamba’ and the surf family. Peace for your soul.”
Hernández’s brother also paid an emotional tribute on social media.
“Sister we will always carry you in our hearts,” he wrote.
“God decided to take you now. We already miss you. Love forever.”
– With AP