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.
Stephen Scullion's Toyko Olympic qualification in Houston is all the more extraordinary because he went into race well down the rankings with a PB of 2.12.01 from Dublin last Oct. Ten men on the start line had run 2.9.30 or better & he finished 5th. Serious respect @scullion262..— Greg Allen (@gregallenRTE) January 19, 2020
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.
I don't mean to brag, but 5th in a PB 2.11.52 and the wind was beating the sh*t outta me.. Top 5 gold label is olympics.. WE did that @HAASruns - F*cking animal— Stephen Scullion (@scullion262) January 19, 2020