Olympics star, 18, dies just weeks before Paris Games following tragic diving accident

An athlete has died just weeks before making his Olympics debut Jackson James Rice suffered a tragic diving accident He was due to compete in kite foiling in Paris 

Jackson James Rice has died in a tragic diving accident just weeks before he was due to make his Olympics debut in Paris.

Rice, 18, was in line to become the first caucasion athlete to represent Tonga at the Games in what would have been a historic first, but a freak accident has denied him of the accolade.

His father, Darren Rice, confirmed the devastating news of his son's death to the Matangi Tonga newspaper.

The youngster's death occurred on Saturday at Faleloa, which is located on the island of Ha'apai in Tonga's archipelago.

According to Matangi Tonga, Rice was free diving from a boat when he suffered a suspected shallow water blackout.

Kite-foiling star Jackson James Rice has died just weeks before competing in Paris

Kite-foiling star Jackson James Rice has died just weeks before competing in Paris

The 18-year-old was set to represent Tonga at the Olympic Games next month

The 18-year-old was set to represent Tonga at the Olympic Games next month

Efforts to revive the 18-year-old were unsuccessful.

In a Facebook post, his heartbroken sister Lily said:'I was blessed with the most amazing brother in the whole world and it pains me to say that he's passed away.

'He was an amazing kitefoiler and he would have made it to the Olympics and come out with a big shiny medal. He made so many amazing friends all over the world.'

Tributes poured in on social media, with one friend writing: 'I can't begin to put into words what I'm feeling right now. I still cannot believe it, when I woke up to this news I thought you were playing around.

'You're the most amazing friend anyone could ask for and anyone who has spent time with you would agree.'

Born in the United States to British-born parents, Rice grew up on Ha'apai, where his family run a tourist lodge.

He earned his Olympic place last December after finishing eighth at the Sail Sydney event. He was due to compete in kite-foiling in Paris - the first time the event has been held at a Games.

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