NCAA and Pan American Games champion Shawnacy Barber has emerged as a world-class talent in 2015. The 21-year-old Canadian pole vault record holder shares his words of wisdom.

1. Love the hard work

“It is important to embrace the off-season and the grind that comes with that. For some athletes this can be difficult. They may lift a couple of weights and then stop to take a picture on social media, but in my mind champions are made in the dark.

“You have to love putting in the hard work when no one is watching. It is something that was definitely instilled into me from a young age from my parents.”

Shawn Barber ()

BLACK AND WHITE: This picture is dope

2. Learn from your mistakes

“I have gained far more from my failures than from my successes. Failure can often lead to better performance down the road.

“My career has been a constant stream of mistakes – and one of the biggest I made was at my first major international competition at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona. Back then I only knew my run-up in feet but the only measurement tool we had there was in metres. I tried to compromise in qualification by laying down my pole to count the distance via the length of the pole. This was a big mistake and something I learned from. It was very stressful, because I only got in one warm-up jump.”

After sussing his run-up, Barber won bronze in a national junior record 5.55m.

Shawn Barber ()

A year after winning world junior bronze, Barber competed at the Moscow world champs, crashing out in qualifiers with a best of 5.40m

3. Have fun

“It is something my father always tells me and something I have to remind myself of, but there is no point in being part of this profession if you can’t have fun. I love all elements to the pole vault – vaulting, weights and competing. Most days I can jump for three hours and, for the most part, I will enjoy myself.

“Sometimes I think athletes go into the sport with the wrong mindset. They are trying to force it and make something happen and usually when they do, it can kill all their energy.

“The most important thing is to go out and do your best. If I go to a major competition and even if I lose, providing I’ve had fun, I won’t be disappointed. I see so many athletes get discouraged if they don’t have success and then say they don’t want to jump anymore because they don’t have fun. If they just focused on enjoying themselves more they would have more success down the road.”