Shawn Barber, a world champion pole vaulter who competed for Canada during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, has died due to medical complications. He was 29 years old.

“More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” his agent, Paul Doyle, told the Associated Press on Thursday, January 19. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.”

Paul told the outlet Shawn died at his home in Kingwood, Texas, on Wednesday, January 17, following a period of poor health. The athlete’s cause of death has not yet been determined.

“He was a great guy and will be really missed by a lot of people all over the world,” Paul continued. He added that he had received messages of condolence and fond memories of Shawn “from people from all around the globe” in the wake of his death.

In an Instagram tribute following the news of his passing, Shawn’s management company, Doyle Management Group, highlighted the accolades he received throughout his short life.

In addition to being a finalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Shawn was the 2015 world champion in the pole vault. He currently holds Canada’s record in the sport with his best vault distance of 6 meters.

The company called Shawn “a friend that will never be forgotten,” and concluded its tribute with, “He will be greatly missed.”

Shawn Barber, Olympian and Pole Vault Champion, Dead at 29
Christian Petersen / Staff

During his time in the University of Akron’s track and field program between 2013 and 2015, Shawn won three NCAA Division I pole vault championships, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

In 2014, Shawn also became the first male national champion in Zips history after his vault of 5.75 meters beat future Olympian Sam Kendricks at that year’s NCAA Indoor Championship.

Akron Track and Field wrote in a statement that the program was “saddened” over the loss of their alumni, describing Shawn as a “well-liked teammate and competitor.”

His former coach at the university, Dennis Mitchell, told the outlet one day after his death that Shawn was “extremely smart” and “the nicest guy ever.”

“He was a guy that had zero enemies. Everybody liked him,” Dennis continued. “He was everybody’s buddy all around the world. You would travel with him around the world and he would have friends everywhere.”

Dennis added that he “can’t remember any sort of bad thing he said about anyone.” “The guy was a superstar,” he said of his late student.

Shawn is survived by his brother, David, and his parents, Ann and George.

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