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Tonga's JJ Rice prepares for Summer Olympics Paris 2024

Sydney, Australia

JJ Rice Kite Foiling at the 2024 Formula Kite World Championships in South of France. Photo: IKEA Media/Robert Hajduk.

Kite foiler, JJ Rice, from Tonga, is now competing at the "2024 Formula Kite World Championships" in Hyères in the South of France from 13 to 19 May.

"This is the last big regatta before kiteboarding makes its Olympic debut at Paris 2024 less than three months from now," he said.

JJ represented Tonga at the Kite Foil, Sail Sydney competition in Australia, last December and got eighth place, which earned him a spot at this year's Summer Olympics set to begin in July. The competition is the Kite Foiling Olympic Qualifiers for Oceania.

Jackson James (JJ) Rice was born in the United States, but has grown up in Tonga, where his parents own an island resort at Faleloa, Ha'apai.

Rice moved to Tonga with his parents and two younger sisters when he was only 3-years-old. He said that “repping” his home, wearing the Tongan colors and flag on his board was an incredible feeling.

“I’ve lived in Tonga my whole life, I see myself as a Tongan, I don’t see myself as anything else.”

He said in a video posted by ABC Pacific, that there was a grant to start a little sailing school for Tonga and, that he was excited about it.

“It would be so nice if we could get the young kids sailing in Tonga and hopefully, yeah, push them through to the next Olympics,” he said.

Kite foil racing is similar to kitesurfing, but uses a foil board, so the rider appears to fly above the water and can perform acrobatic tricks and quick turns.

The kites are 7-21 metres and riders hit speeds of more than 40 knots, around 51 kilometres per hour, and the watersport will make its debut at this year’s Summer Olympics.