Shock at the death of a young kitesurfing promise a few weeks before his debut at the Olympic Games

Shock at the death of a young kitesurfing promise a few weeks before his debut at the Olympic Games
Shock at the death of a young kitesurfing promise a few weeks before his debut at the Olympic Games

Jackson James Rice, a talented 18-year-old kitesurfer, tragically died in a diving accident on the island of Ha’apai, Tonga. Rice, who had recently qualified to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Gamesdied after fainting while freediving from a boat.

The young athlete was diving when the fateful incident occurred. His father, Darren Rice, confirmed to the local newspaper Matangi Tonga that the body of his son was found under the boat at 12:15 p.m. Other divers tried to revive him without success. According to his father’s statements, Rice died from “alleged fainting in shallow water.”

Jackson James Rice was destined to make history this summer as the first European to represent Tonga at the Olympic Games, after having qualified for the new kitesurfing event. In December last year he had secured his place in the French Olympic event by obtaining an eighth place in the Sail Sydney event.

Born in the United States to British parents, Rice moved to Tonga at a young age and grew up in Ha’apai, where his parents run a tourist lodge. Although of British-American origin, Rice considered himself a Tongan and represented the country in numerous international events. kite foiling, a type of kitesurfing that includes a hydrofoil under the board. His debut at the Paris Olympics was scheduled for the period from July 26 to August 1 of this year.

The news of his death has caused deep sadness in the local community and among his international followers. Jackson’s sister Lily Rice, expressed his pain and tribute through social networks. In a publication of FacebookLily wrote: “I was blessed with the most amazing brother in the world.” and it pains me to say that he passed away. He was an amazing kitefoiler and would have made it to the Olympics and come out with a big shiny medal… he made so many amazing friends around the world.”

Rice was going to compete in the Olympics representing Tonga

The Tonga Kitesurf Federation and international sports circles have also shown their dismay and regret at the loss of such a promising athlete. Lily’s words capture Jackson’s spirit, not only as an extraordinary athlete but also as a person who touched the lives of many with his charisma and passion for sports.

The type of kitesurfing in which Rice was going to compete combines elements of several sports disciplines such as sailing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing and paragliding, creating an extreme sport full of adrenaline and technique. In the last decade, kitesurfing has gained popularity and become an Olympic discipline, giving Jackson Rice the opportunity to showcase his talent on the world’s biggest sporting stage.

The community of Ha’apai, where James grew up, is mourning the loss of a young man who not only represented the future of kitesurfing, but also the spirit and resilience of Tonga on the global sporting stage. On the humble island, His presence was always notable for his exceptional talent and his friendly character. Those who knew him and those who followed his career will always remember him as a brilliant young man who was destined to achieve great heights in the world of sport.

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