By Matias Grez, CNN

A 22-year-old Olympic surfing hopeful from El Salvador has died while training for an upcoming qualifying competition, the country’s surfing federation (FESASURF) has confirmed.

Katherine Diaz was in the water at El Tunco beach in southwest El Salvador on Friday when she was struck by lightning, FESASURF told CNN.

“Katherine was a girl very passionate about sports, she was very motivated and happy for the event that was approaching,” it said in a statement. “‘The Paddle Out’ — a ceremony in her honor — will be held next Tuesday.”El Salvador’s National Institute for Sport (INDES) said: “We raise a prayer for the eternal rest of her soul and we express our most sincere condolences to her family.”

“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.”




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