World pole vaulting champion comes out as gay
The world pole vault champion has come out as gay.
Shawn Barber, 22, is a Canadian track and field athlete and currently reigning world champion in pole vault.
The athlete opened up in a post on Facebook, with little fanfare around the news.
He wrote: “Gay and proud! Thank you to my parents for being such a great support.
“I continue to grow as a person and have a great support group. My parents are my greatest support and have helped me through a lot recently.
“To my friends, you are always my friends and I love you too!”
His post has been flooded with warm comments from other supportive athletes as well as from fans.
One said: “Be proud and being yourself is Important. You are a role model to the athletes of tomorrow.”
Another added: “Proud of you Shawn. The world is getting closer to the day when we accept everyone by how they conduct themselves, not by their sexual orientation or religious beliefs, etc.”
Barber currently holds the world title after topping the table at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing.
At the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Barber placed tenth “in wet and windy conditions”.
Three out Olympians represented Canada at the 2016 Games – footballers Melissa Tancredi, Stephanie Labbe and Marie-Eve Nault.
Team GB athlete Tom Bosworth previously spoke about experiencing homophobia in the sporting world.
The race walker and PinkNews Award winner, who competed at the 2016 Olympics, wrote: “My team-mates asked whether I had a partner and how old I was when I came out.
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“They were intrigued by my sexuality and asked me whether I got any stick for being openly homosexual.
“The truth is that I used to. When I was competing in local athletics a number of years ago, some other athletes called me ‘fag’ or ‘queer’.
“A group of lads used to gang up on me and the worst episode came when they smashed my head through a window after a run-in.
“I decided not to tell anyone about it, so my parents or teachers didn’t know.
“I guess I was more worried about people blaming me than the students, but I had the support of my friends to get me through that tough time.”