Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber (© AFP / Getty Images)
World pole vault champion Shawn Barber continued his strong start to the season by setting a lifetime best of 6.00m – the best height by a Canadian under any conditions – at the Pole Vault Summit in Reno on Friday (15).
The 21-year-old opened his season with a 5.88m vault in Texas on 2 January and followed that with a 5.70m clearance in Akron one week later.
In Reno, Barber cleared all of his heights up to and including 5.83m on his first attempts. At that point, only Japan’s Seito Yamamoto was left in the competition. Yamamoto had cleared 5.77m to add six centimetres to his own national indoor record, but he was unable to match Barber at 5.83m and so exited the competition.
Barber then moved the bar up to 5.94m. He needed all three attempts, but finally got over it to break his own Canadian record. He hadn’t quite finished, though.
The bar was raised to 6.00m and Barber sailed over on his first attempt to establish another national record. He also added eight centimetres to the meeting record and became just the ninth man to clear that barrier indoors. His 6.00m clearance is also the best ever indoor mark by an under-23 athlete.
Barber's previous indoor best of 5.92m was set at last year's IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich, where the pole vault was held indoors in the city's train station. His outdoor PB is 5.93m, set at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London.
US champion Sam Kendricks was third with 5.65m, while world decathlon champion Ashton Eaton opened his season with a 5.00m vault.
Barber will travel to Europe in the next few days to face world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie in Rouen on 23 January.
While Barber dominated the men’s event, the women’s contest was a lot closer.
After the bar had passed 4.60m, just three women were left in the competition: NCAA champion Sandi Morris, European silver medallist Ekaterini Stefanidi and two-time world indoor finalist Mary Saxer.
All three successfully negotiated that height and the next, 4.66m. The final placings were only decided at 4.71m.
Morris was the first to clear it, giving her the victory with an indoor PB. Stefanidi and Saxer also got over it to finish second and third respectively, the latter equalling her outright lifetime best.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF