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Former world champion pole vaulter Shawn Barber dies at 29

In Sports
January 19, 2024
17 February 2016; Shawn Barber of Canada after competing in the men's pole vault event at the AIT International Athletics Grand Prix. Athlone Institute of Technology International Arena, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Shawn Barber went from standout at Akron to world champion. (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Shawn Barber, a Canadian pole vault world champion and Olympian, has died, his agent Paul Doyle announced Thursday. He was 29 years old.

Barber’s cause of death is not yet known, but Doyle told the Associated Press his client had been experiencing health issues. Barber reportedly died Wednesday at his home in Kingswood, Texas.

From the AP:

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

Barber’s career peaked in 2015 with his win at the world championships in Beijing, clearing 5.90 meters on his first attempt. German competitor Raphael Holzdeppe matched him on his third attempt, but both athletes’ failure to clear six meters left Barber as the world champion.

The following year, Barber competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where he made the finals and finished 10th. Brazil’s Thiago Braz took gold in that event.

Among the other accomplishments in Barber’s career were three NCAA titles during his time at the University of Akron, two indoor titles, the 2013 Pan American Junior Championships, the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2016 World Indoor Tour.

Barber’s career highs of six meters indoors and 5.90 meters outdoors remain Canadian national records.

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