The young athlete died a few weeks before the Olympics (4 photos)

21 June 2024

18-year-old Jackson James Rice died in an accident just weeks before his Olympic debut in Paris. Kitefoiler was to become the first white Tongan athlete.

On June 15, Rice was freediving off the Ha'apai Islands in the Pacific Ocean. His body was found under the boat, and attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful. According to preliminary data, Jackson lost consciousness under water.

Rice's sister Lily wrote on social media: "I was blessed with the best brother in the world and it pains me to say that he is no more. He was an amazing kite foiler and would definitely have won a big shiny medal at the Olympics... He made so many wonderful friends Worldwide".

Rice was born in the United States and later moved to Tonga. He grew up on Ha'apai, where his family runs a camping lodge.

The talented athlete qualified for his first Olympics last December, finishing eighth at Sail Sydney.

Kitefoiling combines aspects of sailing, wakeboarding, windsurfing and paragliding.

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