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Shawn Barber, Olympian and world champion athlete who came out as gay, has died at 29

Barber competed for Canada, living his life openly and ‘proudly’ after coming out in 2017.

15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 - Day Three
Shawn Barber competed for Canada and won a World Championship, as well as competed in the Olympic Games.
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Shawn Barber, a world champion pole vaulter who came out publicly as gay, has died. He was 29.

According to reports, Barber died on Wednesday at his home in Texas due to what is being described simply as “medical complications.”

Barber, competing for his home nation of Canada, won gold at the 2015 World Championships. Over the years he also took home gold at the Pan American Games, as well as a silver and bronze at the Commonwealth Games. He competed at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, finishing 10th.

In 2017, Barber wrote a post on Facebook talking publicly for the first time about being gay.

“Gay and proud,” Barber wrote at the time. “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!”

After his initial coming-out post, Barber chose the subdued approach to being out, talking rarely about it and instead focusing on his competition and his personal life.

On Thursday, manager Paul Doyle shared his thoughts on Instagram.

Outsports sends our condolences to Barber’s friends and family. He will be remembered as someone who was willing to be his true self openly and “proudly,” so that others might feel they can do the same. He will be missed.