Their paddles packed and plane tickets booked, the trio were left holding their breath while the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) considered their cases, finally clearing them to compete on Wednesday just hours before they were due to take off.
With Russia caught in the grip of a doping scandal, just getting to the Rio Olympics was a victory of sorts for the country’s table tennis players Polina Mikhailova, Maria Dolgikh and Alexander Shibaev.
“It was in Moscow, the next morning we had a flight, we were thinking we wouldn’t get confirmation until we get into the plane,” said Mikhailova at the team’s first training session in Rio on Saturday. “Then we were given confirmation from the ITTF.
“Of course we could breathe normally after this.”