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Facing solitude and adversity, SurfX’s Lia Diaz rises to achieve a Top 10 finish at the ISA World Longboarding Championship.
By Danielle Finnegan | June 27, 2024 | Guanacaste
Surfing

The pristine beaches of El Tunco buzzed with anticipation as 200 of the world’s best surfers gathered for the International Surfing Association World Longboarding Championship. Among them was Lia Diaz, a 19-year-old Costa Rican trailblazer who navigated the waves—and the competition—alone.

From April 18 to 25, the surf community’s spotlight was firmly fixed on this Central American gem. But for Diaz, the journey began earlier. Arriving on April 13, she dedicated five days to understanding the local waves, a crucial step for any serious competitor. Diaz had ventured to El Salvador three times before, yet this trip felt different. She was the only woman representing her country, and her teammates, all men in their 30s, highlighted the isolation she felt.

The competition’s structure was unforgiving. The first heat lasted 20 minutes, and surfers could catch unlimited waves, though only their best two would count. Those who placed first and second advanced, while the third and fourth were relegated to elimination rounds.

In her first heat, Diaz shone brightly, achieving the highest single wave scores of the event. Her initial success, however, was tempered by the grueling path ahead. The repercharge system demanded she surfs ten heats instead of five, navigating treacherous and unpredictable waves.

Despite the exhausting demands, Diaz’s resilience never wavered. Her goal was clear: break into the top 10. She secured a commendable 9th place finish among 70 competitors through sheer determination. Yet, her achievement was bittersweet. With no one there to cheer her on, Diaz felt the sting of solitude.

Reflecting on her experience, Diaz’s biggest takeaway was the need for greater self-belief. “The results prove it, but mentally, it’s always a challenge,” she confessed. She noted that surfing is a lonely sport that demands physical prowess and emotional resilience. “You must learn to deal with loneliness and discomfort.”

Her journey continues to underscore a significant disparity in support. Despite her superior results, opportunities for female longboard surfers like Diaz remain limited.

Looking ahead, she remains hopeful with the potential inclusion of longboarding in the 2028 Olympics, a decision expected in early 2025. Diaz, Costa Rica’s number one female longboarder, is set on making history.

In the meantime, Diaz maintains her rigorous training regime, balancing surf sessions with gym workouts. Her advice to aspiring surfers is unequivocal: “Start early. The path gets harder as you get older. Give it 110 percent and be obsessed with it.”

Despite the challenges, Diaz remains committed. Financial support from PPGY has ensured she can compete in future events in Mexico, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, where she has previously triumphed.

Lia Diaz’s journey at the World Longboard Championship is a testament to her indomitable spirit. Her story, marked by highs and lows, highlights the fierce independence required in competitive surfing. As she carves out her place in history, Diaz continues to inspire, proving that greatness is within reach even in solitude.

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