Canada’s Shawn Barber made a shocking early exit from the pole vault final after missing three consecutive attempts at 5.65-metres on Monday in Rio.
The 2015 world champion has a season best of 5.91 metres. He struggled through a competition marred by delays, first due to heavy rain, then a malfunctioning bar.
“It’s just a matter of trying to get everything to line up on the right jump at the right time and I just couldn’t find that rhythm today,” Barber said.
After the rain stopped, volunteers scrambled to mop up the runway with towels. The total delay, including the downpour, was close to an hour.
“Conditions and everything bearing, I think it’s almost to be seen. You saw a lot of great athletes out there that didn’t make the bars they were hoping to,” Barber said.
Where it went wrong
The 22-year-old chose to begin jumping at the opening height of 5.50 metres, something he did at last year’s worlds en route to victory.
Tonight, it was shaky from the start. Barber missed his first attempt, but cleared his second try with ease, emerging both times drenched from the pit.
Then it was time for officials to tinker with the bar, which was stuck near the base, while they tried to raise it to the next height of 5.65 metres.
And it was here that Barber faltered, ending Canada’s medal streak at nine days. He dropped the bar three consecutive times, ending his first Olympic Games before world record holder Renaud Lavillenie had vaulted even once.
The Frenchman would begin his competition, as Barber left the track, and go on to reach 5.98 metres. Yet the Olympic Stadium turned uproarious for young Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva after he cleared an Olympic record 6.03 metres.
The 22-year-old won gold, Lavillenie settled for silver and Sam Kendricks of the United States earned bronze (5.85).
For Barber, it’s a 10th-place finish in Rio with a disappointing 5.50 metres in the final. His 5.70-metre clearance from qualifications was his best vault.
“There’s a lot to take away from a first Olympics. It’s a totally different venue, totally different sport and moving forward I just can’t wait for 2020,” he said.