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Marathon runner Stephen Scullion reverses decision to withdraw from Tokyo 2020

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Stephen Scullion. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Stephen Scullion. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Stephen Scullion. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

A Belfast marathon runner has dramatically reversed his decision to withdraw from the Irish Olympic Athletics team.

Stephen Scullion had previously ruled himself out of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, just 48-hours after the Ireland contingent was announced, citing mental health struggles.

The 32-year-old Belfast man now intends to compete in the men’s marathon event on August 8, having spoken to the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

"Various events led to my decision to withdraw from Tokyo," he said in a Twitter post on Tuesday evening.

"I want people to know my decision to withdraw from Tokyo wasn't linked to my love for running, and it wasn't running, stress, expectations [or] the hype.

"I was threatened in various situations that if I didn't perform I'd be punished, and so I thought making a decision to withdraw myself from the Olympics would punish the person who had hurt me.

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"With your help and the help of people close to me I realise that's not the right answer, and I'd only be continuing to punish myself."

The announcement by the athlete was greeted with delight by fans online, who praised the runner for speaking out about his mental health.

On Saturday, Scullion explained his decision was taken as a result of his mental health: “I will not be going to Tokyo Olympics and, until I feel in a better place with mental health, I am taking some time to myself.

“I apologise to anybody who has supported me until now and feels let down.

“Sometimes in life you have to do what is right and I need to find a happy place.”

The marathon event during the Olympics will take place in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo.

The Clonliffe Harriers man has been Ireland’s most outstanding marathon runner in recent times. He represented Ireland in the World Championships in Doha and subsequently qualified for Tokyo in the Houston marathon.

He excelled himself with an Irish record time of 2 hrs 9 mins 49 secs in London last October — beating the previous best by the legendary John Treacy, who took silver in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles .

Ireland will also be represented in the Tokyo marathon by Holywood’s Paul Pollock and Belfast’s Kevin Seaward, who both competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics.


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