Animal Scullion is one tough cookie
"The only thing that bothers me about the trauma and adversities in the past is that I sat still for too long. I allowed it to overcome me for too long. I sat on the end of my bed crying, for too long."
Stephen Scullion is feeling sorry for himself no more.
From a fork in the road to a lifelong dream, the Antrim long distance runner has gone from a disillusioned soul to an Olympic qualifier.
Every day, he fights the battles that once conquered him, that once would have drove him to drink but every day he backs himself to overcome them. Because Stephen Scullion, the two time Irish 10km champion and marathon standard bearer sees himself, as an animal.
"Nobody is going to tell a lion that coronavirus is happening right now," says the affable Antrim man. "They’re cracking on like they always did and I definitely think we can learn something from it.
"There’s something inside me that’s just a bit wild and the more I can channel that within the running scene, the better."
"Like last year, I ran past a guy in the Dublin Marathon and roared in his face with 40 metres to go. I look back and think, I can’t believe I even did that. It almost makes me cringe. But I love it – that's wild and you can’t script that."
You would have to be a little bit mad to be running 100-plus miles per week, to be covering 10 miles on an easy day but Scullion has taken a leaf out of the David Goggins playbook. 'If you can't do it yourself, you better create a motherf*cker that can'
The 31-year-old has endured his fair share of ups and downs in the past, having spoken previously to the Irish Examiner about the problems caused by alcohol in his life but he's on a good run now, Tokyo qualification in the bag.
"If you're struggling and having a bad day, sitting on your couch. The thing that's going to help you is going out the door and running. For whatever reason, I was having a really bad day yesterday. One minute I had my bag packed to go into a little office and go do some work. And then I was like, 'No, no I should go do my run'. Then I’m sitting back down on the couch moping about it, nothing happening's here and then in reality, I knew when I made that initial effort, shoes on, out the door, hit the watch, eight minutes into the run, there is a big smile that just comes back."
Scullion is a serious operator. In 2009, he ran and ran well for the Irish Under-23s at the home Euro Cross Country in Santry. In 2010, he qualified for the commonwealth games only to miss out through illness. That blow set him back, and sent him down the wrong path but having made his way back, he's even more determined than ever to make it to Tokyo. Last year, he battled to a 43rd place finish at the World Marathon in Doha, before being first Irish finisher in the Dublin marathon last year.
"The only thing that bothers me about the trauma and adversities in the past, the only thing that bothers me is that I sat still for too long. I allowed it to overcome me for too long," he said at the launch of the KBC virtual Dublin marathon.
"I sat on the end of my bed crying, for too long in other words. Yes, you go through rough phases and bad patches. You don't wake up excited every day, but you just have to stick to that routine as well as you possibly can. Sometimes you just have to force it because the thing you don't want to do, the run or cleaning the house or whatever, that's what will cheer you up.
"So what tends to happen is, when you don’t quit, and you keep fighting that little bit and you know you were handed the opportunity, I think you almost come out the other side better because it was free will. It was choice to keep doing whatever you can and A, handle what’s been going on and then B, try to move to thrive in it."
He's thriving now. From squatting over 140 kilos when playing rugby for CIYMS in Belfast, he has now trimmed down to just 68 kilos to rub shoulders with some of the world's best.
"Not many marathon runners have gone from playing rugby and running into guys 20 kilograms heavier than him thinking he was going to bust through them..."
But this man, is limited edition.