Irene Piotrowski began to run competitively in 1963 at the age of 21, and within months co–set a new Canadian record for the 100yd dash with a time of 10.7 seconds. One year later, Irene set a Canadian record of 11.4 seconds in the 100m at a pre-Olympic track meet in Vancouver and was chosen to represent Canada at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo where she advanced to the semifinals of the 100m. That same year Irene broke the world indoor record for the 880yd and won the silver medal at the Toronto Telegram Games.

Irene competed at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, winning the silver medal in the 100yd; a bronze medal in the 220yd; and anchored the 4x110yd relay team to a fourth place finish. At an international meet in Los Angeles in 1967, Irene won silver in both the 100 and 200m sprints and in so doing, she defeated three of the greatest runners in the world—Wyomia Tyus, Barbara Ferrell, and Jennifer Lamy.

At the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Irene was named captain of the women’s track and field team. She won the bronze in the 100m, came fourth in the 200m, and anchored the 4x100m relay team to the silver.

In 1968 she traveled to Europe to win 100m events at track meets in both Norway and Sweden. Later that year, at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Irene represented Canada in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay. Despite a painful leg injury, she ran her lifetime best in the 100m at 11.3 seconds (a Canadian record), and to prove it was not by chance, repeated the feat the very same day!

By 1971, Irene won silver in both the 100m and 200m sprints at the Canadian Nationals, and brought home a gold and silver medal from an international track meet in Palermo, Italy.

In 1973, persistent leg injuries finally forced her to retire from competition. In 1974, Irene was appointed as manager for the first Canadian national women’s track team to tour abroad.

Later, Irene worked as the owner and manager of Robert’s Rings and Things, and remained an avid promoter of health and fitness.