Update: Barber failed to medal in the final.
Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber will get a chance to defend his world title at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in London after being one of the 12 vaulters to qualify for Tuesday’s final.
Barber, who came out as openly gay in April in a very low-key fashion, cleared 5.70 meters (18 feet, 7 inches) on his third attempt to make the final field.
"I think I can be a little more crisp on the runway and more crisp with my jump," Barber told CBC Sports. "Hopefully the winds cooperate in a couple days. They were a little rough out there today. It should be a great competition."
Barber won the title at the last world championships, held in 2015. He had a disappointing 2016 Olympics after being suspended for failing a drug test and then having his suspension overturned.
He came out as gay in a Facebook post (“gay and proud”) and then did not address his sexuality again for almost three months. Barber, 23 and a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, downplayed his announcement saying, “It’s something that shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s a personal choice, it shouldn’t be so heavily debated.”
It’s Barber’s right to discuss his sexual orientation on his terms, and in an ideal world it wouldn’t be a big deal. But it’s not yet an ideal world for LGBT people in sports, so to see him competing again at the highest level of his sport speaks volumes