Shawn Barber, the accomplished Canadian pole vault world champion and Olympian, has passed away at the age of 29. His agent, Paul Doyle, has confirmed his death to The Associated Press on Thursday.
While the cause of Barber’s death has not been disclosed yet, Doyle said in the interview with AP that the athlete had been facing health challenges for some time now. Barber reportedly passed away on Wednesday at his residence in Kingswood, Texas.
“More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” Doyle said in a statement. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.”
In 2015, Barber achieved the pinnacle of his career with a significant win at the world championships in Beijing, clearing 5.90 meters on his initial attempt. Although German competitor Raphael Holzdeppe matched his performance on the third attempt, both athletes’ inability to clear 6 meters ultimately crowned Barber as the world champion.
The subsequent year saw Barber’s participation in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where he reached the finals and secured a 10th-place finish. The gold in that event went to Brazil’s Thiago Braz.
Throughout Barber’s illustrious career, he claimed three NCAA titles during his tenure at the University of Akron, including two indoor titles, the 2013 Pan American Junior Championships, the 2015 Pan American Games, and the 2016 World Indoor Tour.
Barber’s notable achievements include Canadian national records of 6 meters indoors and 5.90 meters outdoors.
In April 2017, Barber made a significant announcement, publicly coming out as gay on a short Facebook post that reads:
“Gay and proud! Thank you to my parents for being such a great support. I continue to grow as a person and have a great support group. My parents are my greatest support and have helped me through a lot recently. To my friends, you are always my friends and i love you too!”
Barber never spoke again about his sexual orientation, and he never gave interviews about it but Outsports has received confirmation from the Canadian Olympic Committee that Shawn Barber did indeed wrote the aforementioned coming out post.
This revelation propels Barber into the echelon of highly distinguished and accomplished openly gay athletes globally.
Barber, who achieved the remarkable feat of becoming only the 21st person in history to clear the 6-meter mark in pole vaulting, holds the Canadian record in the discipline. He leaves behind his mother, father, and brother.
Meanwhile, fans took to Twitter/X to express their prayers and condolences to Barber’s family: