Shawnacy Barber continues to rewrite the Canadian pole vault record book.
The 20-year-old from Toronto cleared 5.90 metres to win the Texas Relays on Saturday in his first outdoor meet of the season, shattering his own Canadian record of 5.71 he set at the same meet two years ago.
The mark was a world’s best so far this outdoor season.
“You know, six months ago if you asked me if I’d be jumping at 5.90 consistently, I would have told you ‘No way,”’ Barber said in a phone interview. “But it’s funny how things happen, and I couldn’t be more grateful to be where I am right now.”
The sophomore at the University of Akron cleared 5.91 earlier this month to win the NCAA indoor track and field championships. The height was both an NCAA collegiate indoor record, and a Canadian indoor record — the fourth time he’d lowered the indoor mark this year.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind, it’s been a bit crazy, definitely something I haven’t experienced before, it seems like every other week I’m out breaking records,” Barber said. “I’ve been doing some work on and off the field to help get myself higher, so I would just say it’s been a wonderful season for me, so far, and hopefully I can stay healthy and keep it up, and keep raising the bar.”
Barber was born in New Mexico but has dual citizenship. His dad George is from Kincardine, Ont., and when Barber was growing up the family split time between the U.S. and Toronto. George was a pole vaulter on Canada’s national team in the 1980s, and introduced his son to the sport, assembling a pole vault pit in their barn in New Mexico when Shawnacy was a young boy.
He holds the U.S. high school collegiate record, but chose to compete for Canada, he has said, because he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Barber won bronze at last summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and with his recently lofty results has his eyes on the podium at this summer’s world track and field championships in Beijing.
“That would be awesome, I think that’s definitely on my list of things to do,” Barber said. “That’s definitely something I’m shooting for.”