Dr. Richard and Pauline Kniaziew with Simon Whitfield. November 23, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Barrie Shepley).

Local triathletes recognized for years of dedication

A married couple from Leamington, who together own and operate several optometry clinics in the area, are proving that an active lifestyle comes with many benefits.

Dr. Richard and Pauline Kniaziew have competed in triathlons for over 30 years. Now in their 70s, Pauline Kniaziew said it’s something they’re going to continue as long as they can — hopefully into their 90s.

“It’s not hard on our bodies because we swim, bike, and run so it’s not like it’s doing one sport that is too repetitive,” she said. “It’s something that we do enjoy and can do at different levels and you’re just competing against yourself.”

The Kniaziew’s name may sound familiar to residents in the area, as the two own and operate Kniaziew Optometry, which has six locations in Chatham-Kent, Leamington and Essex County.

The couple was honoured with the Triathlon Canada 2019 Impact Award over the weekend at an event in Inglewood. The award is in recognition of their long-time presence at triathlon events.

“We were very excited to receive that award. It was a surprise,” she said.

The award was presented to the couple by a familiar face, Olympic triathlon champion, Simon Whitfield — who the Kniaziew’s first met when he was a child.

“He competed here in Leamington at one of our provincial championships a couple of times so we knew him before he made the world scene,” said Kniaziew. “He’s a wonderful person and it was great to see him again.”

Their love of doing triathlons started first started with their children and went on from there.

“It’s funny because both my husband and I did not swim as children so it’s something that we had to learn as adults,” said Kniaziew. “From that, we went on to do Ironman distances. It has been a long journey for us but a very fun one.”

Kniaziew said they have lived in Leamington since 1976 and have had a very good life, attributing part of that to sports.

“It’s so important to have a healthy lifestyle, it serves you well in your life,” she said. “Also, it keeps you connected with people who also have the same type of lifestyle and its a very positive thing. When you feel good about yourself, you’re able to give positive energy to other people.”