Israel Barona, a surfing hopeful for the 2024 Paris Olympics, has died at the age of 34.
The Ecuadorian Surfer died in El Salvador on Tuesday, October 31.
The 2024 Paris Olympics surfing hopeful was visiting for a competition, the Ecuadorian Olympic Committee and El Salvador’s National Civil Police confirmed.
‘The Olympic Movement extends its heartfelt condolences to the Barona Matute family, following the death of the great athlete of Team Ecuador Surf, Israel Barona Matute. Rest in peace, champion…,’ the Ecuadorian Olympic Committee wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
According to a statement posted to X by the El Salvador National Civil Police (PNC), Barona ‘suffered seizures while he was in a hotel in El Zonte, La Libertad.’
The PNC reported that the surfer was taken to a hospital when he was found; ‘however, he was already deceased.’
The statement concluded that the PNC have ‘ruled out’ homicide.
His brief biography
Barona took up surfing when he was 10 years old and began competing at the national level five years later.
He represented Ecuador at the World Surfing Games and Bolivarian Games, in addition to participating in the event’s on the Men’s Qualifying Series of the World Surf League (WSL).
‘We deeply regret the loss of Israel. His memories and his legacy will live on in our hearts,’ the Montanita Surf Club wrote in a tribute to the surfer on social media.
‘In this time of deep sorrow, we would like to express our deepest condolences and support. May you find strength and comfort in the love and memories shared with Israel. We’re here for whatever you need.’