By Paul Osborne

A close friend has raised over £2,800 in support of Phil Hogg's dream of competing at Rio 2016 ©Getty ImagesDecember 31 - British paratriathlete Phil Hogg's dream of competing at Rio 2016 has drawn a step closer after a childhood friend helped him raise more than £2,800 ($4,600/€3,350) to put towards his training costs.

Mark Simpson, an old neighbour of Hogg's, turned his 40th birthday into a charity golf competition at Morely Hayes golf course in Derbyshire, with an evening fundraiser at Heanor Town Football Club, to help Hogg on his road to Rio.

"I was really moved when Mark asked me if he could raise money to help with my training," said Hogg.

"I couldn't believe someone would go to all that effort for me and I kept asking him, 'Are you sure?'

"It was a fantastic day.

"The support was amazing and I'm truly grateful to everyone who played a part.

Hogg, 44, was paralysed from the waist down in 1991 when he broke his back in a biking accident.

He only broke onto the triathlon scene last year after being recognised for his potential at a talent identification weekend in Loughborough.

He went on to win his first ever triathlon at the European Championship in Turkey and now has his sights firmly set on Rio 2016, where the sport is due to make its debut on the Paralympic programme. 

Off the track, he added Derbyshire Disabled Sports Person of the Year and British Triathlon Male Paratriathlete of the year to his list of accolades, inspiring those around him to really back him on his road to Rio.

"Phil's triumphs over adversity really are an inspiration," said Simpson.

"I really admire his winning attitude to sport and life in general.

"Phil's a real professional.

"He puts in the hours but equipment, training and travel costs are expensive.

"That's why I decided to put my 40th birthday to good use by helping out an old friend – one sportsman to another.

"I was blown away by the total raised – that really was the best birthday present I could have wished for.

"Thanks to everyone who helped make the event such a success."

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