Olympic pole vaulter and world champion Shawn Barber came out as gay early Monday morning in a post on Facebook.
“Gay and proud!” the 22-year-old wrote. “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!”
The Canadian Olympic Committee confirmed to Outsports that Barber did in fact write the post.
With the announcement, Barber instantly becomes one of the highest-profile and successful out athletes anywhere in the world. He won the world championship in the pole vault in 2015 and finished 10th at the Rio Summer Olympics last year.
He also holds the NCAA indoor record in the pole vault and in 2016 he became the youngest man to ever vault 6 meters.
The reaction from friends and fans has been very supportive, with followers commenting messages of love and support on his post.
“All the best to you Shawn! I’m certain you’ll pass on the love and support you have received to others and that’s basically all of our most important purpose in life,” wrote one. “Shine on!”
“Thank you for your courage and for being you! You rock,” wrote another.
One fan summed it up best: “Very proud of you! It is so important to have leading sport figures such as yourself [be out for the] gay kids out there who sometimes may feel that sports is not for them!”
Congratulations Shawn and welcome to the family!