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‘I need to find a happy place’: Marathon runner Stephen Scullion quits Olympics over mental health issues


Stephen Scullion. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Stephen Scullion. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Stephen Scullion. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Ireland’s top marathon runner Stephen Scullion has dramatically withdrawn from the Irish Olympic Athletics team some 48 hours after the bulk of the squad for Tokyo was announced.

The 32-year-old Belfast man made a weekend announcement that he has made the decision due to ongoing mental health issues.

“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,” he explained.

“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.”

Scullion has struggled with mental issues in the past. A year ago, he ran a personal best time over 10k at the Maze Racecourse and then announced his retirement. He afterwards backtracked and said he had had up and down experiences during the Covid-enforced lockdown.

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.

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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 now 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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