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Belfast trio among first raft of Team Ireland athletes confirmed for Olympics

Stephen Scullion is one of three Belfast men who will compete for Ireland in the marathon at this summer's Olympic Games in Japan
BY MALCOLM McCAUSLAND

Team Ireland yesterday made the first tranche of athletics selections for the Tokyo Olympics naming seven athletes to compete in the marathon and 50km Race Walk events. These will not be held in Tokyo on account of the humidity but instead will be hosted in the cooler climate of Sapporo, some 800 kilometres north of the Japanese capital. Sapporo additionally holds a special place in Olympic history, having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972.

It came as no surprise that three Belfast runners will represent Ireland in the men’s marathon with the trio all qualifying some months ago. Kevin Seaward, Paul Pollock and Stephen Scullion comprise the line-up of Red Hands set to do battle in a field of over 100 in the men’s event.

Speaking about his selection Pollock said: “It is a real honour to compete in the Tokyo Olympics for Team Ireland. Having already competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, I am looking forward to pulling on the Irish vest once more. I'm excited about being based in the city of Sapporo and I'm looking forward to the welcome that we will get. It will be a very different experience of course, without any spectators, but we are there to perform to our best and I am extremely proud to be part of the team.”

Named in the women’s marathon is Wicklow’s Fionnuala McCormack who is heading to her fourth Olympic Games after a debut appearance as an Olympian in Beijing 2008. She is joined by Cork’s Aoife Cooke who qualified at the eleventh hour in April at a race in Cheshire where Letterkenny AC’s Ann-Marie McGlynn ended up an agonising fourth seconds outside the qualifying mark.

For Donegal walker Brendan Boyce, it will be his third Games after being the first Irish athlete across all sports to achieve an Olympic qualification time. He will compete in the men’s 50km Race Walk alongside Rio Olympian Alex Wright.

This is the first of at least two Team Ireland announcements for athletics, with the next scheduled for early July when they will name the track and field athletes selected, as well as athletes in the 20km Race Walk. The Olympic Games in Tokyo will run from the 23 July - 8 August 2021.

TEAM IRELAND TOKYO ATHLETICS ANNOUNCEMENT:

Marathon Men: Paul Pollock Annadale Striders, Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Hrs), Kevin Seaward (St. Malachy’s)

Marathon Women: Aoife Cooke (Eagle AC), Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC)

Athletics Men’s 50km Race Walk: Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley), Alex Wright (Leevale AC)

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