Remembering Shawn Barber: What Made the Canadian Pole Vault Champion a Sporting Icon at 29?

January 19, 2024
The world mourns the loss of Shawn Barber, the esteemed Canadian pole vault record holder and 2015 world champion, who has passed away at the young age of 29 due to medical complications.

Shawn Barber olympian obit 011824 tout 665e0872dfca46019a228bc1ad7cff9e Remembering Shawn Barber: What Made the Canadian Pole Vault Champion a Sporting Icon at 29?

Early Life and Career

Hailing from Las Cruces, New Mexico, Barber’s upbringing bridged both the US and Canada, with his father, George, born in Ontario. In January 2016, Barber set the Canadian world record for men’s pole vault, achieving a remarkable feat. His illustrious career included a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and a triumph at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing later that year.


Barber’s prowess reached its zenith with a remarkable vault of 6 meters, still standing as the Canadian record. The 2015 world championships in Beijing witnessed his victory with a 5.90m mark. His accolades extended to winning the NCAA outdoor title in 2015 for the University of Akron, where he secured back-to-back indoor titles and clinched one of his five Canadian titles.

Olympic Journey

In 2016, Barber made his Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro, earning a coveted spot in the final, eventually won by Thiago Braz of Brazil.

Personal Life

Survived by his brother David, mother Ann, and father George, Barber was not just an extraordinary athlete but also a kind-hearted individual, always prioritizing others. His agent, Paul Doyle, expressed the tragedy of losing such a compassionate soul at a tender age.

Cause of Death

Barber’s passing occurred at his residence in Kingwood, Texas, from undisclosed medical complications. The University of Akron’s athletics department mentioned that Barber had been ailing and experiencing poor health for some time, yet the specific details leading to his untimely demise remain undisclosed.

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