Marathon man Scullion secures Tokyo place

His qualification completes a remarkable transformation in recent years given Scullion retired from the sport several times in his 20s before re-committing in 2015, at which point he was a regular smoker and drinker and weighed 85kg.

Marathon man Scullion secures Tokyo place

Stephen Scullion secured qualification for the Tokyo Olympics when finishing fifth in the Houston Marathon on Sunday in 2:11:52, a personal best by nine seconds.

The 31-year-old Belfast man, who ran 2:12:01 to finish second in Dublin last October, was targeting the automatic qualifying standard of 2:11:30 and though he came up just shy, he booked his place in Tokyo via a top-five finish in a gold label road race. The race was won by Ethiopia’s Kelkile Woldaregay Gezahegn in 2:08:36.

Scullion reeled off a steady pace from the outset of five minutes a mile, passing halfway in 1:05:48. “That was hard,” he said. “It was windy and I knew top five was the only way (to secure Olympic qualification).”

His qualification completes a remarkable transformation in recent years given Scullion retired from the sport several times in his 20s before re-committing in 2015, at which point he was a regular smoker and drinker and weighed 85kg. These days he tips the scales almost 20kg lighter and trains in a professional environment in Flagstaff, Arizona under the guidance of coach Stephen Haas.

Having struggled with a hamstring issue over the past week, Scullion required six physio sessions to even make it to the start line on Sunday but in the end he was rewarded for his persistence, becoming the second Irishman to qualify for Tokyo after Paul Pollock, who clocked 2:10:25 in Valencia. Fionnuala McCormack is the sole Irishwoman to qualify at this stage after finishing fifth in the Chicago Marathon in 2:26:47.

Meanwhile, in Athlone IT on Saturday (January 18) Rolus Olusa (Clonliffe Harriers) and Elizabeth Morland (Cusinstown) captured the senior titles at the Irish Life Health National Indoor Combined Events with respective scores of 3,584 points and 3,806 points.

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