Two months after becoming the 19th man to join the six-metre club, pole vault world champion Shawn Barber was stopped at 5.85m Thursday night to open the International Association of Athletics Federations world indoor championships.
The 21-year-old Canadian missed in his first attempt at 5.85m in Portland, Ore., finishing fourth with a mark of 5.75.
Thursday was supposed to be a showdown between French star Renaud Lavillenie, the top-ranked pole vaulter in the world and Barber, a close second who had another chance to prove he's beginning to make a mark in the sport following a 2015 season that included Pan Am gold, a Canadian record and outdoor world title.
Lavillenie, who cleared six metres earlier this month, did it again Thursday, topping the field of 14 at 6.02. He then set the bar at 6.17 in a bid to surpass his own record, indoor and outdoor, set in 2014 in the Ukraine, but missed all three attempts.
American Sam Kendricks (5.80) and Poland's Piotr Lisek (5.75) also stood on the podium. Kendricks is the reigning outdoor national champion who won the U.S. indoor title last week.
On Jan. 16 in Nevada, Barber was the youngest to clear the six-metre barrier, which is akin to breaking the four-minute mile in running or hitting 50 home runs in a season. A rare feat, indeed.
"I think I'm on course to have some really good performances," Barber told CBC Sports during a sit-down interview in Portland earlier this week.
Thursday's Olympic final-calibre field also included Brazil's Thiago Braz, the 2012 world junior champion who defeated Lavillenie at a meet in Berlin last month. He finished 13th at 5.55.
In the women's competition Thursday, world indoor record holder and reigning Olympic gold medallist Jenn Suhr of the U.S. easily cleared a meet record 4.90 for the gold.
Fellow American Sandi Morris won the silver and Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece took bronze.
Canadians can follow the competition with CBC Sports' exclusive live online streaming coverage at CBCSports.ca and via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices, as well as additional coverage on CBC Sports' Road to the Olympic Games TV broadcasts.
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