Shawn Barber Dies At 29: Pole Vault Community Pays Tribute To World Champion

By Chris Chavez

January 19, 2024

Shawn Barber, the Canadian pole vault record holder and 2015 world champion, passed away at 29 years old from medical complications.

Here’s what you need to know:

– Barber died at his home in Kingwood, Texas. His agent, Paul Doyle, confirmed the news to the Associated Press. The cause of death is not yet known but Barber had been facing health issues in recent months.

– Barber burst onto the scene as a star at the University of Akron by winning back-to-back NCAA indoor championships in 2014 and 2015. He also won the NCAA outdoor title in 2015 before winning gold at the Pan-Am Games later that summer.

– In 2015, Barber also won gold at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing.

– A year later, he reached the final in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

– His best vault was recorded at 6.00m indoors and 5.93m for outdoors, which remain Canadian records.

– Barber is survived by his mother, Ann; father, George; and brother, David.

Fellow pole vaulters pay tribute:

Canadian Olympian and pole vault record holder Alysha Newman on Instagram: “I wish I could say heaven received another Angel but if I’m being honest it was way too soon. Shawn, my teammate, my dear friend and confidant. I’m honored to have been in the same walk of life as you. To many, Shawn is known as one of the greatest male Pole Vaulters of all-time but to me, Shawn changed the way I lived life. With Shawn around there was never a bad day. With him, heaviness was lightened, tears turned into laughter and every bad jump day, he had two drinks in-hand to help pass defeat.

These weren’t even the best parts of Shawn. Shawn was so selfless. He would go above and beyond to make sure everyone around him was good before he was. He never missed a “thank you” or a gesture to show people how thankful he was for their help. Today I am sad but tomorrow I’ll be thankful for the love, the advice and adventures we had because that is what Shawn would have wanted. He would want us to remember all the amazing times he impacted your life and remind us all that there is always more to life.”

2020 Olympic gold medalist Katie Moon via Instagram stories: “While we weren’t close in recent years, he played a significant part in my pole vault journey that helped me get to where I am today. You won’t be forgotten Shawn.”

2012 Olympic gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie on Twitter: “Will never forget all the good time we spend together 🙌🏼 RIP my friend 🤍 Condolences to your family 🕊️”

Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.