BY JOHN HOBBS MA ’14
HE’S DONE IT AGAIN. This summer, Professor of Clinical Physical Therapy Rob Landel added another medal to his collection, scoring a gold medal in beach volleybal in the 60-and-over division at the European Masters Games. Taking place every four years, the European Masters Games is a multi-sport festival, consisting of summer sports, for master athletes, aged 30 and over. The gold medal is only the latest for Landel. He had already earned gold, silver and bronze medals at the World Masters Games, another multisport festival for masters athletes aged 35 and over. We served up a few questions for the volleyball virtuoso following his most recent win.
When did you first get your start in beach volleyball?
I started when I met my wife, who competed indoors on our intercollegiate team and introduced me to the 2-person sand game.
How did you find out about the World Masters Games, and what made you want to participate?
My wife played on an indoor team that decided to compete at the WMG in Sydney in 2009. I tagged along to watch and was recruited to play on a team that won the gold in the 40s division. 2023 was my first European Masters Games.
What does it take to be a successful volleyball player in the World Masters Games?
Much the same as you’d need to be competitive anywhere: dedication to training, finding practice time, preparing mentally, paying attention to my diet and finding a partner you’re compatible with (both on the court and while traveling!). With age, I’ve found it necessary to spend more time resistance training. And I rely on my friends in the PT community to keep me healthy (shout out to Katie Forline DPT ’15, Michael Kyriacou DPT ’20 and Steve Reischl DPT ’97 for help with my Achilles rupture!).
In what other sports, if any, do you continue to participate?
My wife and I are still active skiers (and I snowboard), we hike and bike whenever we can, and we recently started standup paddling. Pickleball might be next; never too late to learn new sports.
As a 60-and-over athlete, why is it important for you to stay so active?
There’s a difference between aging and declining: as the years pass, my physiology will inevitably change due to aging (sarcopenia, visual acuity, lowered VO2 max and maximum heart rate, and so on). Decline, however, is not inevitable; it happens with inactivity. So staying active swims against the persistent tide of decline. Beyond that, competing is a way to push my limits and test my capabilities, regardless of what the calendar says. Lastly, I get a sense of well-being, it de-stresses me and keeps me calm. A great thing about Masters and Senior Games is you make new friends, which research suggests is a key factor in longevity.
How will you know when it’s time to hang it up with volleyball?
I’ll play until I can’t, I suppose. Age is not the issue, that’s just the calendar going by. What matters is how I feel, and I feel the older I get, the older “old” gets. I can’t compete with the “young-young” anymore, but I can hang with 40-plus and am competitive with 50-plus. I’m playing in a few weeks with my son, who plays professionally, in a dinosaur tournament (combined ages has to be over 80). Looking forward to that!