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Tongan kitefoiler dies in diving accident before Olympic debut

GEOFF BURKE-USA TODAY SPORTS
                                The Tongan flag is seen at the opening ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, in August 2016, at Maracana. Tongan kitefoiler Jeakson James Rice, who was chosen to compete at the Paris Olympics, has died in a diving accident, Matangi Tonga reported today.
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GEOFF BURKE-USA TODAY SPORTS

The Tongan flag is seen at the opening ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, in August 2016, at Maracana. Tongan kitefoiler Jeakson James Rice, who was chosen to compete at the Paris Olympics, has died in a diving accident, Matangi Tonga reported today.

Tongan kitefoiler Jeakson James Rice, who was chosen to compete at the Paris Olympics, has died in a diving accident, Matangi Tonga reported today.

The 18-year-old died on Saturday near Ha’apai. His body was found by other divers and attempts to resuscitate him failed, the newspaper reported.

Rice, born to British parents in the United States, grew up in Ha’apai and was a naturalised Tonga. He represented Tonga in several major sailing competitions including the Formula Kite World Championships and the World Sailing Championships.

“I was blessed with the most amazing brother in the whole world,” his sister Lily wrote on Facebook. “He was an amazing kitefoiler and he would have made it to the Olympics and come out with a big shiny medal.”

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