- WSL

Twenty-two-year-old surfer and Olympic hopeful Katherine Diaz Hernandez was tragically killed by a lightning strike at a beach in El Salvador on Friday.

According to reports she was surfing at El Tunco, a beach on the Pacific coast at around 5 p.m. when the lightning hit her. She was taken to hospital but sadly couldn't be revived.

The Associated Press said she was training for the ISA World Games surfing event, which serves as the final qualifying event for surfing's debut at the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Her brother, former pro José ‘Bamba' Díaz, posted a tribute on Instagram. "We will always carry you in our hearts. God decided to take you now ... we already miss you. Love forever Little sister."

The ISA also posted a statement on its Facebook page, lamenting the loss.

"It is with a heavy heart that the ISA has learned about the passing of El Salvador's Katherine Diaz.

"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," the statement said.

Díaz worked as a chef and had opened her own business in El Tunco, The AP reports. Yamil Bukele, a sports official in El Salvador, also posted a tribute to Díaz.

"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," Bukele said.

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