Canadian world champion pole vaulter Shawn Barber has died at the age of 29, his agent Paul Doyle told CNN on Thursday.
Barber set the Canadian record for the men’s pole vault in January 2016. He earned a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and also won the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, later that year.
Barber passed away at his home in Kingwood, Texas, on Wednesday from medical complications, according to a statement from the University of Akron’s athletics department.
As a college student, Barber was a member of the University of Akron’s track and field team, where he was a three-time NCAA championship winner.
“Barber had fallen ill and had been experiencing poor health for some time,” the athletic department’s statement said.
The university remembered Barber as “a well-liked teammate and competitor” in the statement.
“More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” Doyle told the Associated Press, which he confirmed to CNN. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.”
Barber made his Olympics debut at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and earned a spot in the final, which was later won by Thiago Braz of Brazil.
His best vault was 6 meters, which is still the Canadian record, according to Olympics.com.
Barber is survived by his brother David, his mother Ann and his father George, according to the University of Akron’s statement.
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