18-year-old Jackson James Rice died Saturday at Faleloa. FACEBOOK

The teen kitefoiler was set to represent Tonga at an Olympic Games in Paris 2024 but fell victim to a suspected shallow water blackout, according to local media reports.

18-year-old Jackson James Rice died Saturday at Faleloa, on the island of Ha’apai in the Tonga archipelago while free diving from a boat, the Matangi Tonga newspaper reported after his father, Darren Rice, confirmed the tragic news Monday.

“I was blessed with the most amazing brother in the whole world and it pains me to say that he’s passed away,” Rice’s sister Lily said in a Facebook post. “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.”

Both of Rice’s parents are British, while the deceased athlete was born in the United States but grew up on Ha’apai, where his family owns a business. The promising kitefoiler, a sport where competitors race on boards that routinely soar at 50 kph (30 mph) speeds above water, had been training and competing in Europe after qualifying for the Olympics in December thanks to an eighth-place finish at the Sail Sydney tournament.

The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved kitefoiling in the Olympic programme in 2020 and the discipline, which blends elements and characteristics of wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing, snowboarding, paragliding and skateboarding is set to debut in the Paris 2024 Games, which are now 39 days away.

Rice’s body was found beneath the boat mid-day. Efforts to revive the teenager were unsuccessful.

His father Darren remembered how, at 15, Rice risked his own life to help save many lives, when a ferryboat carrying 18 people capsized in heavy seas off Faleloa in 2021, Matangi Tonga reported. On another occasion, JJ swam out to rescue two girls who had been swept off a sandbar, and pulled them back to safety.

Popular Tongan athlete and Rio 2016 flagbearer Pita Taufatofua was among the many to pay tribute to Rice, whom he met working at the tourist lodge that his parents operated.

“In between helping at the resort, he would do what he loved - kite surfing - out in the oceans of Ha’apai," Taufatofua wrote on Facebook. “Being self-taught as a kid, he reached a level where he would compete at the recent Olympic-qualifiers on his quest to one day represent Tonga at the Olympic Games. He had a great respect for the sea and for all the people in our little motu [island]. JJ left this world doing exactly what he loved, in a place he loved - the ocean.”