Marlene Mathews was selected for the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, but injury precluded her competing in the sprint events. She won bronze medals in the 100 metres and the 200 metres at Melbourne 1956; each time behind Betty Cuthbert and Christa Stubnick (GER). Although she was Australia’s second fastest sprinter, she was surprisingly left out of the 4 x 100 metres relay team that won the gold medal in world record time. At a post-Olympics meeting, she was part of the relay team that broke the 4 x 220 yards and 4 x 200 metres world records. She set a world record for the 440 yards in early 1957.
In 1958 Mathews set world records for the 100 yards and the 220 yards and then won gold medals in those events at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, in Cardiff, Wales together with a silver medal in the 4 x 110 yards relay. She made the semi-finals in the 100 metres at Rome 1960. At Munich 1972, Mathews was one of the Assistant Managers of the Australian team. In 1979, she became a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to athletics and 20 years later became an Officer of the Order of Australia for her service to athletics, sports administration and the community. Marlene Mathews was an original inductee into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 and in 2010 she was inducted into the Athletics Australia Hall of Fame.