Shawn Barber, the accomplished 29-year-old pole vault world champion, passed away at his home in Kingwood, Texas. The news was confirmed by his agent, Paul Doyle, citing health complications. Barber’s management agency shared a tribute on Instagram, remembering him as a friend who will never be forgotten.
Barber’s stellar career included significant achievements, such as winning the pole vault world championship in 2015—a historic moment that secured Canada’s first-ever world pole vault medal in 12 years. The University of Akron alumnus, a three-time NCAA champion, also earned accolades like the 2015 Pan American Games Gold Medal and represented Canada in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
Known for his kindness and sportsmanship, Barber’s passing has deeply saddened the athletic community. Athletics Canada, the national governing body for track and field, expressed condolences, highlighting Barber’s remarkable contributions. His former coach, Dennis Mitchell, described him as an exceptionally smart and polite individual who was universally liked by competitors worldwide.
Barber’s impact extended beyond his athletic prowess. He broke barriers as the first male individual national champion in the University of Akron’s history, achieving a Canadian record of 18 feet, 10¼ inches in the 2014 NCAA Division I indoor championship. His legacy also includes a gold medal at the 2015 IAAF World Championship in Beijing and triumphs on the Diamond League circuit.
Despite facing health challenges in recent times, Barber’s indomitable spirit and dedication to his sport left an enduring mark. The cause of his death has not been disclosed. He is survived by his parents, Ann and George, and brother, David.
The sporting world mourns the loss of a talented athlete and exceptional individual who touched the lives of many.