Pole vault

Former world pole vault champion Shawn Barber dies at 29


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Former world pole vault champion Shawn Barber dies at 29

CHAMPION. Canada's Shawn Barber in action during the men's pole vault in the 2015 IAAF Diamond League.

Phil Noble/Reuters

‘It's tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age,’ says agent Paul Doyle after the death of 29-year-old Olympic pole vaulter Shawn Barber

Shawn Barber, the Canadian record holder and 2015 world champion in pole vault, has died at the age of 29.

Barber’s agent Paul Doyle confirmed to Reuters he died Wednesday, January 17, at home in Kirkwood, Texas of medical complications.

“More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” Doyle said on Thursday, January 18. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.”

Barber claimed gold at the 2015 Pan American Games and weeks later, the then 21-year-old upset a field including silver medalist Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany and favorite Renaud Lavillenie, who won bronze, in capturing the world title in Beijing.

Barber’s best jump of 6.0 meters set on January 15, 2016 is still the Canadian record. He also competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Barber first competed in pole vault at the age of seven, shattering the US high school record by more than a foot before winning back-to-back NCAA indoor titles for the University of Akron in 2014 and 2015, and then the 2015 NCAA outdoor title.

The vaulter held dual citizenship as his father George, his coach for most of his life, was born in Kincardine, northwest of Toronto. 

When he was first named to the Canadian team, he said he chose to compete for Canada to follow in his dad’s footsteps.

Barber is survived by his father, mother Ann, and brother David. – Rappler.com

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