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Shawn Barber, photo by PhotoRun.net

21 Year Old Canadian Wins World Championship Pole Vault Crown

Shawnacy Barber, unflappable on the biggest of stages, won the men's pole vault at the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championship today in Beijing. Performing before a near capacity crowd in the Bird's Nest, the Canadian and United States high school pole vault record holder jumped flawlessly from the beginning. From the opening height, the NCAA collegiate indoor record holder proceeded to make first attempt clearances at 5.50m/18'½", 5.65m/18'6½", and 5.80m/19'¼", while most of the other 15 finalists accumulated missed attempts and ultimately fell by the wayside. Only six competitor - Barber; Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski from Poland; France's Kevin Menaldo and Renaud Lavillenie [the indoor world record holder and reigning Olympic champion] and the defending world champion Raphael Holzdeppe - remained when the bar went up to 5.90m/19'4¼ " After yet another first attempt clearance, Barber - University of Akron junior whose dual citizenship allows him to compete internationally for Canada - stood by and watched the two Poles and the two French athletes go three and out. Only a third attempt clearance by defending world champion Holzdeppe kept the competition alive. With the Bowerman finalist in first place and pitching a perfect game, the bar went up to 6.00m / 19'8¼" - the mystical barrier only ever cleared - indoor or out - by just 18 men. Jumping first, Barber had no close attempts at the iconic height. The German athlete struggled as well. After missing his third and final attempt at 6 meters, the 3-time NCAA champion stood anxiously by to watch Holzdeppe's final attempt which - if cleared - would give the German the win. When the defending champion dislodged the bar, the gold went to Barber.

In addressing the media, the new world champion, spoke widely on a variety of topics. His consistency: "I was very fortunate to be very consistent throughout the competition. And that was the name of the game. I came in knowing that it was going to be a meet coming down to first attempts like that. I couldn't have asked for a better competition." The pressure of a world championship final: "Of course you're going to have nerves going into a big meet like this. But my whole goal is to keep my head down and make sure I remember to breathe. That's the biggest thing for me: have some fun out there, you know. Enjoy yourself." On Lavillenie's single clearance: "I think he was very confident coming into this meet. But it is always easier to chase than to be chased. I know he didn't have the meet he was expecting or wanting. And I think that will just make him hungrier for the next time." His thoughts as Holzdeppe attempted his final jump to snatch the victory: "I knew that whatever happened, I was already on the podium. And I couldn't say anything against that. So I was very happy the way the whole meet went. And if he [Holzdeppe] would jump 6 meters, he was more than welcome to the top of the podium. He's a great athlete and I didn't put it past him."

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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