World champion pole vaulter Shawn Barber has tragically passed away at the age of 29.
According to a report from The Associated Press, the athlete died on Wednesday (17 January) at his home in Kingswood, Texas.
In a statement to the publication, Barber’s agent, Paul Doyle, confirmed that he had been dealing with some health issues before succumbing to medical complications.
“More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” he said. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.”
The University of Akron, Barber’s alma mater, echoed similar sentiments in their own statement, describing him as a “well-liked teammate and competitor.”
As of this writing, his cause of death has not been revealed.
During his sports career, the Canadian athlete made massive waves within the Track & Field sphere, earning an array of NCAA pole vault titles during his collegiate years.
In 2015, he won the gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China and the Pan American Games, respectively.
His upward trajectory within the sports world didn’t stop there. The following year, Barber participated in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, where he landed in 10th place.
Lastly, the beloved talent holds the Canadian record for the longest vault with 6.00m.
In addition to his historic and stellar athletic abilities, Barber received acclaim from LGBTQIA+ sports enthusiasts after he came out as gay in 2017.
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According to Pride, he revealed the news with a powerful and sweet message posted on his Facebook page.
“Gay and proud! 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.
“My parents are my greatest support and have helped me through a lot recently. To my friends, you are always my friends love you too!”
Since his tragic death, tributes for Barber have poured in on social media.
One user on X, formerly known as Twitter, wrote: “Once a champion, always a champion. RIP.”
CBC News reporter Devin Heroux added: “Wrote about pole vaulter Shawn Barber a number of times — about when he came out publicly in 2017 in the wake of his world championship win a couple years earlier.
“‘Gay and proud!’ he wrote in a post. There was joy. And excitement for what was ahead. Gone way too young.”
Another user wrote: “So shocking and sad. RIP Shawn you were an incredible athlete.”
Barber is survived by his parents, Ann and George, and his brother, David.