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A Gold Medalist Returned To Thank The Volunteer Who Helped Him Make His Race On Time

Gold medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica holds up his medal on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's 110-meter hurdles on Aug. 5.
Gold medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica holds up his medal on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's 110-meter hurdles on Aug. 5.

If not for the kindness of a stranger, Jamaican hurdler Hansle Parchment may not be a Tokyo Olympic gold medalist today.

The 31-year-old athlete took the wrong bus on the day of his semifinal race. Distracted while listening to music, he didn't realize what was happening until it was too late.

"By the time I looked up, I realized, 'No, this bus is going the wrong way.' I'm not familiar with these surroundings," he said in a video posted on his Instagram.

Lost in Tokyo and quickly running out of time to grab another bus to the right venue, the hurdler explained in the video how he met a stranger who paid his taxi fare to get him to his race.

Because of her, he made it with enough time to warm up — and then compete in the men's 110-meter race that earned him gold and his best time of the season.

Parchment was determined to share the victory with the person who helped make it happen.

In the video, Parchment boards the bus that delivered him to the wrong area — this time intentionally — and rides back to find the stranger, a Games volunteer named Trijana Stojkovic.

He approaches her, pulls out his medal and thanks her for her kindness that day.

"You were instrumental in me getting to the final that day," he tells her, handing her the medal for her to see.

"Really? Really? You got this?" she says.

Parchment also shows his gratitude by giving Stojkovic a Jamaican Olympic polo shirt and repaying the money she had given him. And the thanks didn't stop there: Jamaica's Ministry of Tourism sent an official invitation to visit the island.

Stojkovic later posted a picture of herself wearing the shirt on her Instagram. "I'm full of gratitude to everyone," she wrote. "This is a gift from dear Hansle. Perfect fit!"

Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.