KUALA LUMPUR: When Mei Qili was presented with a choice of leaving China for Malaysia to pursue her interest in badminton, she thought it was a smashing idea.
The lanky Chinese lass was in need of "rejuvenation" - after a 17-year involvement with the game in Guangzhou.
With a successful stint in the recent Kopiko Purple League, the 25-year-old is even more convinced that she made the right decision to be based here.
Qili, who has visited Malaysia several times and spent Chinese New Year here last year, said her mother Xie Yufen, the winner of the 1983 China National Games women's badminton team gold medal, made her pick up a racquet at the age of seven.
"But I was not that interested at first.
"I remember crying when she sent me to badminton school," she said at the Kepong Badminton Club grounds.
"Over the years, I learnt to appreciate the sport and what my mother did for me," she added.
Qili grabbed attention after pairing with Indonesia's Hendra Gunawan to win all their matches in the league, guiding the club to the Champions Challenge trophy.
She is well on the way to making Malaysia her second home. Qili's boyfriend is a Malaysian.
"I find Malaysians friendly and warm.
"The lifestyle here is also comfortable, with 24-hour mamak shops where you can sit and chit-chat.
"In Guangzhou, we do not have such outlets. It is a different culture," she added.
Qili also has a penchant for making accessories like shuttlecock-inspired bag straps, which she sells online.