Barely after being introduced to serious athletics last season, Sharon Jeptarus is already smiling all the way to the bank.
The 24-year-old settled for a last-minute silver medal in women's 1500m category on Tuesday night at the ongoing 24th Summer Deaflympics in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil.
Jeptarus went head-to-head with her strong competitors in the opening lap after a heavy downpour that dampened spirits of most fans who had thronged the Sesi Centro Esportivo Athletics Track to enjoy the global spectacle.
She then took charge of the remaining rounds, which she led to the final lap, where she seemed to run out of breath and was overtaken by Ukraine's Anastacia Sydorenko.
"I'm glad to have finally nailed my first international medal. I feel honoured that the glory is coming in my debut in the Deaflympics," Jeptarus said.
"We had strategised for the race with my compatriots, but I felt I was not feeling well. So I decided to go much faster and as soon as possible," she said.
The Iten-based athlete admitted that part of her entire solo run was based on fear after she was greatly disappointed in her first international outing last year, at the World Deaf Championships in Poland.
She finished fourth and sixth in 1500m and 800m respectively.
"In Poland, we had a strategy, but I was the only one who stuck to it. This denied me medals in both categories," said Jeptarus.
"So today I opted to go for it alone and I'm glad it bore fruit.
Jeptarus added that the wet weather did not affect her performance as she had acclimatised to the cold Brazilian conditions by training at the cold Karura Forest ahead of Summer Games.
She said the silver she won has lifted her spirit ahead of the women's 800m race.
"I'm very hopeful for gold in the 800m," she said.
Jeptarus dedicated the medal to head coach Samuel Kibet, triple men's 10000m Deaflympics champion Simon Cherono Kibai and Deaf Athletics Association of Kenya president Jones Kirui.
In the next five years, Jeptarus hopes to add a world record to her CV.
"I'm also planning to venture into women's 5000m and 10000m races before I exit the scene after competing in marathon," she said.
Kibet said his athletes could have performed better had it not been for the heavy downpour.
"Competitors from Europe were also very strong. The only way to beat them was to stay ahead, just the way Jeptarus did," Kibet said.
"I'm glad Jeptarus followed the tactics I taught her."
Kibet said the good show by his athletics contingent in Brazil is as a result of adequate preparations and government's support.
Kibet said the Kenyan contingent is targeting 20 medals in Brazil as they aim to surpass the total 16 (5 Gold, 5 Silver, 6 Bronze) won at the 2017 Games, in Turkey.
At the same time, former Kenya Amateur Matchplay champion Isaac Makokha was yesterday set to battle for bronze in the golf play-off after he lost 6-4 to World and Deaflympics champion John Allen of Germany in the semis played on a match play format.
Makokha had beaten Lasse Nielsen of Denmark 2-0 in the quarters to set a semis battle with Allen.
In women's javelin final, Alice Atieno finished fourth.