…as we humans adapt it…
How do other species adapt it? (joking)
but another language or culture may look at it very differently. I think definitions like these are quite subjective.
How other languages adapt it is really unimportant, since we are talking about how it is used in our language. The issue is that most early athletes were very athletic, competing in several events, if not all events. With today's wide range of sports with very narrow sets of skill requirements(i.e. snowboarding, curling, bowling, archery), and the inclusion of mechanized sports like car racing, the distinction between a person being categorized as an athlete by profession, and a person being athletic in that he/she possesses certain physical/mental traits that lend themselves to potential success in most physically demanding activities is the result.