Shawn Barber, a three-time NCAA champion and Olympian pole-vaulter, passed away in his home on January 18. He was 29 years old. While the cause of death still appears to be unknown, the Associated Press is reporting that the 29-year-old had been dealing with health complications.
After his passing, Barber’s agent, Paul Statement released a statement about his untimely passing.
“More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” Doyle said Thursday. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.”
Barber Dealt With ‘Personal Issues’
He placed top 10 in the pole vaulting competition at the 2016 Olympics. But then Barber suffered a multitude of ankle issues in 2018. He was forced to not compete for the entire 2019 season. Upon his return, the late pole vaulting star admitted he had been dealing with some “personal issues.” However, he said he was looking forward to getting back to having fun.
“I was dealing with some personal issues — injuries, family. There were a lot of personal factors playing roles in my career that I had to re-evaluate and I’m still in the process of managing those relationships,” he said in 2020.
“For the most part, I’m fairly healthy and it’s good to be jumping. It’s a lot of fun to have those early couple of meets. Something I’m looking forward to working on is just being able to show up and have fun at a meet without the sense of pressure.”
George Barber Came Under Fire in 2015
His father, George spent much of his life coaching him. But that all came to a screeching halt in 2015. George was banned by the national governing body for track and field after his 2007 criminal conviction of charges of having sex with a student while he was employed at a U.S. high school was revealed.
Though Sean said he understood the decision to ban his father, George still had the full support of his son. “Athletics Canada did what they felt they had to do. I understand and don’t fault them for their actions,” he said in 2015.
“My training and competition plans will continue as programmed and will hopefully result in successful performances. My dad never held an official position with Athletics Canada, so it’s a non-issue. My father has always been supportive of me and I’m sure he will continue to be my biggest fan and support me in whatever I choose to do.”