Canada’s Pole Vaulting Record Holder, 29, Dies Suddenly

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Canada's Pole Vaulting Record Holder, 29, Dies Suddenly

Canadian world champion pole vaulter Shawn Barber died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 29.

Barber’s agent confirmed in a statement that the athlete had died at his home in Kingwood, Texas, on Wednesday.

The cause of death has not yet been revealed.

“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.”

World Atheletics account on X posted their condolences:

“Keep flying, Shawn. World Athletics is deeply saddened by the passing of Shawn Barber, the 2015 world pole vault champion. Condolences go out to his family, friends and fellow vaulters.”

Barber became a world-class pole vaulter while attending the University of Akron, where he secured back-to-back NCAA indoor championships in 2014 and 2015.

The athlete went on to win the outdoor NCAA title before winning a gold medal that summer at the Pan-Am Games.

Barber also won a gold medal over Germany’s Raphael Marcel Holzdeppe in Beijing.

Barber went on to compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, reaching the finals.

7 News reported that in 2016, Barber made headlines after failing a drug test when traces of cocaine were found in his system before the Rio Olympics.

He was stripped of his 2016 national title but wasn’t suspended, with Athletics Canada saying at the time it was a mistake and “a learning experience”.

Barber at the time said it was a “shock” while the woman he was with admitted she had consumed cocaine.

He again made news when he came out as “gay and proud” in 2017.

“Thank you to my parents for being such a great support. I continue to grow as a person and have a great support group,” he wrote on Facebook.

“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!”

Former Australian discus thrower Benn Harradine wrote “such terrible news,” while a fan said “this is tragic”.

Sports reporter Ben Steiner called it “heartbreaking news”.

“Sending my thoughts to his family, friends and teammates,” Steiner wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“We are saddened to hear about the passing of former Akron track & field athlete Shawn Barber,” the Mid-American Conference account wrote on social media.

“Barber was a 3x NCAA Champion, World Champion and Olympian pole vaulter. Our thoughts and prayers are with Shawn’s family, friends and the entire Akron Zips family.”

READ: Top Weight Loss Influencer, 35, Dies from Cardiac Arrest

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