World Champion Pole Vaulter Shawn Barber Comes Out As Gay

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World champion and 2016 Olympic pole vaulter Shawn Barber came out as gay in a Facebook post last night, writing that he is "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!"

Very few male athletes of Barber's stature have come out publicly as gay; there have still only been a handful of men to come out during their playing careers in the four major North American sports leagues. American marathoner Matt Llano is one of the few openly gay track and field athletes currently on the circuit. Outsports wrote today that "Barber instantly becomes one of the highest-profile and most successful current openly gay athletes anywhere in the world."

The Canadian Olympic Committee told Outsports that Barber's Facebook had not been hacked. Barber, 22, is one of the best vaulters in the world and the best Canadian vaulter ever. He holds the Canadian indoor and outdoor records at 6.00 meters (19-8.25) and 5.93m (19-5.5), respectively. In 2015, Barber broke the NCAA indoor record in the pole vault and went on to win the IAAF World Championship in Beijing.

He was at the center of a strange saga last fall when Athletics Canada announced that he had tested positive for cocaine. The positive test did not lead to a suspension, though. The Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada accepted Barber's claim that the cocaine entered his system incidentally after he kissed a woman who had ingested cocaine earlier that evening. 

Barber is scheduled to compete this weekend at the Drake Relays. 

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