The Japanese volunteer who helped Jamaican hurdler Hansle Parchment get to the Olympics Stadium in Tokyo last Tuesday for his semi-final race, after he ended up at another venue in error, believes she didn't do anything special, even after learning yesterday that he had won the gold medal in the finals.
“If I was in his situation, I would want help. The only thing I could do was help him. I just did what I would want if I was standing in the opposite position,” 25-year-old Tijana Stojkovic, whose Instagram handle is d_treefairy, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Parchment, who created one of the biggest upsets at the Games on August 5 by posting a season's best 13.04 seconds to beat favourite Grant Holloway of the US, drew attention to his pre-semi-final plight with a video post yesterday on his Instagram page that went viral.
In the almost four-minute video, Parchment, while on his way to thank Stojkovic, relates how he had boarded the wrong bus because he was listening to music and didn't hear what the people loading the bus were saying.
He said that during the journey he eventually realised that he had made an error and the bus took him to the venue of an aquatics event.
“They were telling me that I had to come back to the [athletes'] village and then take another bus to the stadium. And if I had done that I wouldn't get there in time to even warm up,” he said, adding that he then tried to get a ride to the stadium in one of the motor cars associated with the Olympics but was told he would have had to have booked the vehicle in advance.
“I saw this volunteer and I had to beg. Of course, she is not allowed to do much, and she actually gave me some money to take one of the taxis affiliated with the Games. That's how I was able to get to the warm-up track at the stadium with enough time to warm up to compete and that's just awesome,” Parchment related.
The video shows Parchment greeting Stojkovic, asking her if she remembered him, then showing her the gold medal which he was able to win because of the help she gave him.
“I came back to repay you and show you something. You were instrumental in me getting to the finals that day,” he said to Stojkovic.
“Really? Can I take [a] photo?” she asked on seeing the medal.
“Yes, that's just because you helped me to get to the stadium,” Parchment said as he reimbursed her the money she had given him and presented her with a Jamaica branded shirt.
“I didn't do anything special,” Stojkovic told the Sunday Observer. “I had only a 10,000 yen note, so I gave him the 10,000 yen note. The Olympic Games may not have been held [because of the novel coronavirus pandemic], but when it was miraculously held, he came here to Japan and there are many things that he does not understand because it is a land he does not know.”
Stojkovic said she just knew she was supposed to help the Jamaican.
“I thought that if I couldn't do anything here I would regret it for the rest of my life. I wasn't allowed to give money, but I gave as much money as I had. All I could do was deliver him to the venue and I just did what I could,” she said.
She told the Sunday Observer that she didn't expect to see Parchment again. In fact, she didn't get a chance to watch his race, so she had no idea he had won.
“I didn't understand anything for a moment, and after I noticed the gold medal I was surprised. I was thinking, 'Did I help such a great person?' I was really surprised that I did something amazing. I was really happy. I was so happy that he brought me a lot of surprises. I will treasure these memories for the rest of my life,” she related.
“He told me he would definitely come back, but I didn't want to overdo it, because I would be busy... I didn't ask for a reward. I didn't know who he was. After he came back, I noticed that he was a famous person. So I was surprised and couldn't accept the situation at first,” the Japanese woman said.
Commenting on the shirt Parchment gave her, she said: “I like it because it's a very comfortable material.”
Asked if she had ever been to Jamaica, Stojkovic said no. However, she said the hurdler told her that he would love for her to visit the country.
“He told me to come, so I'll work hard to make the money for the visit,” she said.
Stojkovic, said that since Parchment posted the video online she has been getting a lot of Jamaican followers on Instagram, who are showering her with love.
“I am surprised. On the contrary, I am grateful that so many people are pleased,” she said.