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Gay Olympian and world champ pole vaulter Shawn Barber is dead at 29

Author: Trudy Ring

Shawn Barber, a world champion pole vaulter who came out as gay in 2017, died Wednesday at age 29.

Barber died at his home in Kingwood, Texas. The stated cause of death was “medical complications,” according to an online post from the University of Akron, his alma mater.

“Barber had fallen ill and had been experiencing poor health for some time,” the post continued.

He won three NCAA championships while at the university, then competed internationally. He won the International Amateur Athletic Federation (now World Athletics) championship in pole vaulting in Beijing in 2015. He won a gold medal at the Pan American Games that year as well, and he won silver and bronze at the Commonwealth Games over the course of his career. He competed for Canada in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and placed 10th. He holds the Canadian record for the longest vault.

He came out in a 2017 Facebook post, Outsports reports. “Gay and proud,” he wrote. “Thank you to my parents for being such a great support. I continue to grow as a person and have a great support group. 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!”

Barber was popular with his fellow athletes and others. He was “a well-liked teammate and competitor,” the University of Akron post noted.

“More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” his agent, Paul Doyle, told the Associated Press. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.”

In an Instagram post, Doyle added that Barber was “a friend that will never be forgotten.”

Survivors include his parents, Ann and George, and his brother, David.

Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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