Former AP sports writer Stephan Nasstrom dead at age 70

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Stephan Nasstrom, who spent nearly 40 years covering sports for The Associated Press, has died. He was 70.

Nasstrom's family confirmed that he died Tuesday in Lima, Peru, where he lived after retiring in 2010 from the AP.

Based in Stockholm, Nasstrom covered eight Olympics and numerous World Cups during his career. His specialties were skiing, soccer, tennis and track and field. But he also wrote about a variety of other sports, including Olympic wrestling, which he once said “reminds me of what the original Olympics in Greece must have looked like.”

Nasstrom traveled the globe and was proud of covering events on several continents. He also had a strong attraction to baseball, hardly a popular sport in his native Sweden, and often messaged AP colleagues about the pennant races and World Series.

“He was as knowledgeable about different sports as any AP sports writer we had,” Steve Wilson, the former president of the Olympic Journalists Association who covered the Olympic movement for The Associated Press for nearly three decades until 2017, wrote in an email. “He was particularly fond of tennis, track and field, and winter sports.

“As a Swede, he loved recounting stories about Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg. He was a good tennis player himself. He was a tall, lanky, blond Swede with a joie de vivre. He always had a smile on his face and had a quick sense of humor, always ready with a quip.”

Nasstrom even carried the nickname “Elk,” though no one seemed to be sure where he got it from or who gave it to him.

His first World Cup was in 1978 in Argentina, where he met a woman outside a restaurant who soon became his wife, Angela. They had two sons, Daniel and Michael. It was at the 1994 tournament hosted by the United States that Nasstrom drew what he termed a “greatest thrill” when Sweden finished third behind powers Brazil and Italy. His family was there during the entire tournament, staying in San Diego while Nasstrom followed Team Sweden around the United States.

Nasstrom also was able to arrange a meeting with Pelé for his older son, Daniel.

“I actually met Pelé in Stockholm thanks to my dad, who managed to ‘talk me inside’ through security at the national-soccer arena Råsunda when I was a teenager,” Daniel Nasstrom recalled in an email. “A photo with me and Pelé was always one of his most cherished photos, my dad told me many times.”

A true storyteller, Nasstrom would enrapture his sons and their friends with stories of his travel around the “sport world.”

“That is what all my friends keep telling me,” Daniel wrote. “He was their favorite ‘friend-dad’ because he had so many fun stories to tell.”