Olympic pole vaulter and world champion Shawn Barber came out publicly as gay earlier today. He took to Facebook in the early-morning hours Monday and posted this message:
“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. 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!”
The Canadian Olympic Committee confirmed to Outsports that Barber did in fact write the post.
Barber instantly becomes one of the highest-profile and most successful current openly gay athletes anywhere in the world. He won the world championship in the pole vault in 2015. At the Rio Summer Olympics last year he finished 10th.
He holds the NCAA indoor record in the pole vault at 5.91 meters (19.38 feet), competing for the Univ. of Akron. In 2016, he vaulted 6 meters, the youngest man to ever do it and 21st of all time.
Barber’s Facebook message reminded us a bit of Robbie Rogers’ coming out, posting something very late at night, then going radio silent as people reacted. Barber has not commented on Twitter, or even on the dozen or so responses on his Facebook page.
The reaction from his friends and followers on Facebook has been supportive. We’re sure he will find support across the track & field landscape as well.
We’re thrilled Barber has found the strength to be his true self.