LONDON—Shawn Barber is the world champion in pole vault and yet he entered the stadium here Sunday morning for the preliminaries as an underdog.

He’s one of only a handful of current jumpers that have cleared six-metres and yet, as he says, pole vault is a series of ups and downs. And the 23-year-old Canadian has had more downs than ups since the Rio Olympics where he finished a disappointing 10th.

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