Anaesthetist and Olympic runner;

Born: April 19, 1925; Died: March 18, 2013.

Dr Quita Barber, who has died aged 87, was the country's first woman doctor to run in the Olympics.

Having begun her athletics career at the University of Aberdeen, she proved her prowess internationally during the late 1940s before reaching her goal to compete in the world's greatest sporting event in 1952.

Having achieved her ambition and represented her country at the Helsinki games, she gave it all up, just as she had predicted she would, packed her lucky champagne cork and prepared to head for Finland. "This is all I ever wanted. I will be quite happy to retire after it is all over," she said.

From then on she concentrated on medicine, later combining her career with motherhood and became a respected Borders anaesthetist, known for her professionalism and easy, upbeat and reassuring manner.

Born Isabella Shivas, she was the daughter of chartered accountant Andrew Shivas and his wife Blanche but acquired the nickname Quita after the popular song Marquita that her mother used to sing to her. Growing up in Aberdeen, her family was well known as her father, a founder member of the Aberdeen Magical Society and a magician and ventriloquist in his spare time, performed across the north-east including, it's thought, at Balmoral for the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

At Aberdeen High School for Girls, young Quita's ability on the track was already evident: she always won her races on sports day. It was only after she started studying at the University of Aberdeen that her talent developed.

After leaving school she initially worked in the university's pathology department but at the age of 21 decided to follow in the footsteps of her brother Andrew and become a medical student.

She was just 5ft 3in tall and he dared her to enter the university races against the taller girls. She beat them all. From then on she won any university event she entered and emerged an outstanding natural athlete, later joking that she never needed anything stronger than an extra sugar lump in her tea to boost her performance.

She was a fine sprinter and hurdler, specialising in the 60m and 100yd sprints and 80m hurdles, though she also ran the 200/220yd events. In addition, she played hockey and golf and gained an athletics full blue in 1946.

Vice-president of the University of Aberdeen Athletic Association in 1949-50, she was also in the Scottish University Athletic Union for several years and its women's captain in 1949.

Though she got by with little training, she set new records and won numerous international accolades, taking silver in the 200yds at the 1947 Paris World Student Games and gold in the 100yds and bronze in the 80m hurdles at the same event in Luxemburg in 1951. She had become British 60m sprint champion at the British Women's Amateur Athletic Association championships at London's White City in 1950 and came second in the 100 yards at the same meet.

While studying at Aberdeen she set a new inter-university record and equalled the Scottish all-comers' record, set by Dutch Olympian Fanny Blankers-Koen, with a time of 11.2sec in the 100yds. She also created a new record of 12.2sec in the 80m hurdles.

After graduating from Aberdeen in 1951 she moved to London and, while working at Hammersmith Hospital, pursed her running career at Spartan Ladies Athletics Club. She raced regularly at White City, winning on the circuits and at UK athletic meets.

The following year she received a letter informing her she had been selected to represent Britain in the 100yds at the Helsinki Olympics. "I thought it was some medicine adverts before I opened it," she recalled.

Her talisman was the cork from her graduation party champagne, studded with a silver threepenny piece. Since leaving university it had gone with her to every meet. She came third in her heat at Helsinki and on her return was awarded silver medallion during a civic reception in her honour in Aberdeen.

After retiring from the sport she did postgraduate training in hospitals from Stracathro to Inverness and spent time training as a GP at the north-east village of Insch. In 1956 she qualified as an anaesthetist, practising in Inverness for four years before working in Bangour, Livingston and Haddington from her base at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

By the mid-1960s she had married forestry consultant Stuart Barber and moved to Newstead, near Melrose, where they spent the rest of their married life.

Now with a young daughter, she intended to be a full-time mother but was asked to take on some part-time work in the Borders.

She balanced motherhood with anaesthetics, working at a number of hospitals, including Peel near Galashiels and Dingleton in Melrose, where she was well-liked by her patients and known as hugely dependable and professional.

A fan of the Doric dialect and Aberdeen's Scotland the What? comedy trio, she regularly returned to the north-east. A few years ago she revisited the University of Aberdeen where she had married at King's College and gained fame on the running track so many years before.

Her student days there had been some of the happiest of her life and only a couple of weeks before she died she declared: "I like Aberdeen better than any other place in the world and especially King's College."

She is survived by her husband Stuart, daughter Judith, nieces, nephew and great niece.