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Superb Scullion is on his way to the Tokyo Olympics

 

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Stephen Scullion

Stephen Scullion

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Stephen Scullion

Athletics NI last night confirmed that Belfast's marathon ace Stephen Scullion has qualified for this summer's Tokyo Olympics.

Scullion sealed his spot with a superb run in the Houston Marathon, where the 30-year-old finished in fifth place in a personal best time of two hours, 11 minutes and 52 seconds.

That was marginally better than his winning time in last October's Dublin Marathon. He finished 10th in Houston 12 months ago.

The Clonliffe athlete's time was 22 seconds slower than the Olympic time requirement of two hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds. However, his fifth-place finish was sufficient to gain him Tokyo selection under the complicated new IAAF rules, which include finishing positions in key marathons.

Therefore, his high placing in a gold label marathon has qualified him for the Olympics.

The race was won by Kelkile Gezahegn of Ethiopia in two hours, eight minutes and 36 seconds.

Scullion (right) will now join Hollywood's Paul Pollock, who had already qualified for Tokyo following his stunning marathon time of two hours, 10 minutes and 17 seconds in Valencia. Portaferry's Ciara Mageean is also already qualified following her 10th place in the World 1,500m final.

Meanwhile, Beechmount's Davicia Patterson started her indoor season in style in the US, where she set an impressive personal best over 600m.

The 19-year-old Irish 200m champion was competing in her inaugural race for Iowa State University, where she has embarked on a scholarship.

Patterson, who finished fourth in the European Junior 400m last year, recorded 91.8 seconds to come third. It beat her previous best by a huge five seconds.

In the Millrose Games in New York, Irish 200m record holder Phil Healy finished second over 400m in a time of 53.72 seconds.

Belfast Telegraph