Stephen Scullion has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after finishing fifth in the Houston Marathon on Sunday. 

The 31-year old Belfast athlete beat his personal best by nine seconds, completing the race in a time of 2:11:52. 

The time was 22 seconds outside the automatic qualification time but Scullion secured his Tokyo place via a different mechanism as he secured a top-five finish in a gold label road race. 

It has been a terrific couple of months for Scullion. After struggling in the stifling heat of Doha during the summer, he bounced back with a stunning performance in the Dublin marathon, his then personal best time of 2:12:01 garnering a runners-up spot behind Morocco's Othmane El Goumri. 

He bested that time in Texas this afternoon and is now bound for Tokyo. Now in his early 30s, it is a first Olympic appearance for Scullion who retired from athletics a couple of times during his early 20s before properly re-committing five years ago.