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Stephen Scullion and Paul Pollock hoping to take stride towards World Championship and Commonwealth Games action


Stephen Scullion will hope to shine in Rotterdam. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Stephen Scullion will hope to shine in Rotterdam. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Stephen Scullion will hope to shine in Rotterdam. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Northern Ireland Olympians Stephen Scullion and Paul Pollock will be racing in the Rotterdam Marathon this weekend in an attempt to gain eligibility qualification for major representative races this summer.

Such races include the World Championships in Oregon in July and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham the following month.

These events clash as a direct result of the catch-up process resulting from the pandemic.

However, the required qualification times of two hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds for Oregon and two hours, 13 minutes for Birmingham are certainly attainable for both Scullion and Pollock, who are ranked first and fourth respectively in the Irish all-time list.

The Belfast men deliberately chose Rotterdam for their qualification bids as the race is regarded as one of the world’s fastest marathons, as shown last year by Belgium’s Bashir Abdi, who won in a European record of 2.03.35.

All eyes will be on the somewhat unpredictable Scullion, who failed to finish in the heat cauldron of last year’s Tokyo Marathon but then went on to race a solid two hours and 23 minutes in Boston a few weeks later.

An 18-month time gap from Scullion’s last marathon makes a prediction for Rotterdam extremely tricky, but Pollock is in the same position because of a lack of races due to lockdown.

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The Holywood doctor did in fact finish the Tokyo Marathon in two hours, 27 minutes.

It was his second Olympics and his ability was shown by an outstanding run in Valencia at the end of 2019, where he recorded 2.10.25 which places him fourth on the Irish all-time list.

Ahead of him in third place is Kevin Seaward, who got the qualification consideration standard for the Commonwealths last weekend when third in the Manchester Marathon in 2.11.54.

Meanwhile, in the Queen’s 5k race at the Ormeau Embankment, Mid-Ulster Euro U20 champion Nick Griggs won in 14 minutes, 13 seconds. Clonliffe’s Ian Guiden was second some five seconds back followed by Ben Branagh of St Malachy’s.

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