Mark Blinch/COC
Mark Blinch/COC

Shawn Barber


When pole vaulter Shawn Barber captured gold at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, he put his name in the history books as Canada’s first athletics world champion in anything other than a sprint event. It was among a series of record-breaking results he achieved in 2015.

In February he cleared 5.88m indoors, breaking a 16-year-old NCAA record as well as the Canadian record. He then won the NCAA indoor title with another record vault of 5.91m. At his first outdoor meet of the year in March, he cleared 5.90m to win the Texas Relays, shattering his own Canadian outdoor record by 19cm. In May, he upped the Canadian outdoor record to 5.91m at the Longhorn Invitational in Austin, Texas. Barber went on to win gold at Toronto 2015 with a Pan Am record vault of 5.80m. Just days later, he raised the Canadian record to 5.93m in London, England. He won the gold medal at the 2015 World Championships with a height of 5.90m.

A five-time Canadian champion, Barber had his international breakthrough at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships where he won pole vault bronze. He went on to make his senior world championship debut a year later and then captured bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He would go on to win silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

It was on the NCAA circuit where Barber first made a name for himself while competing for Akron University. He won back-to-back NCAA indoor pole vault titles in 2014 and 2015, adding the outdoor title in 2015, earning him consecutive school Male Athlete of the Year honours. In 2015 he was a finalist for the Sullivan Award, presented by the American Amateur Athletic Union to the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.

Barber turned pro in September 2015, foregoing his final year of university eligibility. In January 2016, he became the first Canadian pole vaulter to clear the six-metre mar, setting the national record at 6.00m at a meet in Reno, Nevada. On a rainy night at Rio 2016, which delayed the final round of competition, Barber vaulted well below his usual standard, clearing 5.50m for a 10th place finish.

A Little More About Shawn

Getting into the Sport: Was intrigued by pole vaulting because his father took him to his training and competitions… Grew up playing with old broken crossbars when he was little… Odds and Ends: His father George competed in pole vault at the 1983 World Championships and was his primary coach…

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
2016 RioAthleticsPole Vault - Men10

Notable International Results

Olympic Games: 2016 - 10th

Pan American Games: 2015 – GOLD

Commonwealth Games: 2018 - SILVER; 2014 – BRONZE

IAAF World Championships: 2017 - 8th; 2015 – GOLD; 2013 – 27th

IAAF World Indoor Championships: 2018 - 15th; 2016 - 4th

NACAC Championships: 2018 - SILVER

IAAF World Championships (junior): 2012 – BRONZE